How Far We Have Come!
Eight weeks of STEP! II EFL program passed us by so quickly! The first day of classes began with students quietly introducing themselves and trying their best to figure out what the teacher was saying in English so quickly. As the weeks passed, everyone became increasingly comfortable and with that the students began to develop in their confidence. Throughout the first five weeks of class, we played volleyball as a group daily during class breaks and through this a level of comfort developed within the group and this translated well in the classroom.
The biggest change I have seen in my students from week one until now is that they are now far more confident and eager to learn English. During the first two weeks it was difficult to get the students to admit when they felt something was too easy or too hard. Asking questions was still embarrassing as they did not want me to necessarily know if they didn’t understand something. Now they are quick to raise their hand to let me know if something does not make sense and they need further examples. Also, the students are far more eager to show off their skills. Instead of not having enough people to share their skills, the issue now is that the students need more time because they each want to share. This is exciting as a teacher to see this change take place. The best example was after playing hang-man over the course of the class the students got to a point where they wanted to be the ones running the activity.
As we completed our reflections week, it was exciting to hear about their long-term goals with English learning. At the beginning of the session, a few of the students were very passionate about learning English on their own. However, overall the class either did not know how to self-study or were not interested. For our final activity, each student had to take turns interviewing five other students to review class highlights, what they learned, and how they will continue to learn English after the class ends. The students consistently had the goal to continue learning through watching movies, signing up for future EFL classes, and using English partnerships online. This is exciting to see the change in how students view English long-term.
The students have improved in their English skills, confidence, and their ability to develop English on their own. It has been such an enjoyable experience working with my students. I feel like I know each of them so well and had the opportunity to foster a learning environment with them. I look forward to hearing from each of them in the coming months and years about where their lives take them. I am so proud of these students and the work they put in coming to class everyday to try their hardest and make a bigger impact in their own lives. It is amazing to see the changes that have been made possible because of their dedication to the STEP! II EFL program. Cheers to all of my students!
– Leah, Fall 2016 EFL Fellow
The English as a Foreign Language (EFL) program is part of STEP! II, a youth employability, empowerment, and community leadership initiative supported by Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation.