By Christine Saah
If you had told me a year ago that I would be teaching, I would have laughed. Even though I always respected teachers and knew how much work all my teacher friends put into their classes, I could never imagine myself standing up in front of a room of students, and I do my best to avoid stressful situations. But God had other plans when I accepted the call to teach English as a missionary. Thankfully, He has been gentle with me and allowed a smooth transition to teach something that’s a gift.
Jenny spent a lot of time teaching us the methods behind teaching, and looking at what was effective. We also observed the pronunciation portion of class taught to all the LCI students. Lastly, we observed the beginners English class with 4 students. This class has been taught by mainly Bobette, but is now shared by myself, Carol, Jenny and Bobette. We are all working together to make sure we all know what the other is teaching. I am usually observed when I teach, and it’s extremely helpful to get feedback. The workbooks are also clear in how to lay out the lessons. I feel like I am starting to enjoy teaching English, but I will always be learning something new. Lastly, I am thankful that I never have to teach my first English class again.
I was petrified to teach my first class. I found out with only a short amount of prep time that I would teach the afternoon class. Ready or not, I had to give it my best effort. I looked through the section assigned, and read it repeatedly. I had to look at the activities assigned and come up with my own as well. I also tried to prepare for possible questions that might come up. The time to teach began, and we opened in prayer, as we always do. I said a special prayer to St. Thomas Aquinas, because I know he’s the patron Saint for all students. I followed my plan, and of course a question came up that wasn’t something I expected. I honestly didn’t have the answer, and thankfully Bobette jumped in to rescue me. The lesson ended and Bobette told me that things went so well that the students would still have their test the next class. I was so surprised, but relieved that it was over. I finally knew what it was like, and felt more comfortable when I prepared for the next lesson.
There’s so much one can do to make the classes fun and interesting, but also effective. There will be ways I can throw my own personality into class such as when I give examples other than the ones listed in the books. The beautiful part about the program here is that we are such a strong community. The teachers are all helping each other, and even the students all work together on their journey to learn English and grow in holiness. Even though I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing, there are people to remind me that I do know more than I give myself credit for and it’s okay to mess up. Teaching is challenging, but beautiful.
Lastly, the beauty of the English language is that it is so universal. It connects people all over the world. These students know that it can connect them to the Universal Church as well. Many of their countries are still overcoming the impacts of Communism and have only recently been free to connect to the rest of the world. I have honestly taken knowing English for granted, and never really thought about it on the global level. I never think about what it would be like to be cut off from the rest of the world. I failed to see that I can connect to so many people and opportunities, because I am fluent in English. The LCI students amaze me, and I am eternally grateful for the chance to grow with them as a teacher so that I can go out into some of their countries and give others the chance to learn English.