Since I began my job as an auxiliar de conversación one year ago, I´ve worked in three different primary schools. My responsibilities as a language assistant were different in every one.
Last year, I was in two different rural schools. In the first, the English teachers set the entire year´s lessons on one theme, completely seperate from their English book. They chose Ancient Art because they knew I studied Art History. So each week, we would learn vocabulary and phrases based off of periods of art (example: animals/cave paintings). We did a lot of crafts in preparation for the parents´open house at the end of the year.
In the second, the lessons were also completely seperate from the book. I was told to teach whatever I wanted. The kids had an extremely low level, so I usually did the same activities for 1st through 4th grade, and another version for 5th through 2nd of ESO. My classes were based on very general themes such as foods, clothing, holidays, etc.
This year, I only work with 2nd to 6th grade and only assist with what they´re working on in their English books. The only exception is second grade where I come up with games for the 30-minute period.
I´d like to think I do a good job with my kids! These are my go-to tricks for keeping the kids motivated and learning in my classes:
As an auxiliar de conversación, this is your biggest job next to getting the students to talk to you. With every bit of vocabulary, I go through and pronounce it for them and make them repeat, usually three times. It´s easy for you and meaningful to them.
Especially watch out for “ese” to begin words starting with “s”, differentiating “b” and “v”, and double “l” being prounounced as the Spanish “ll”. Also, words beginning with “w.” There are literally no words in the Spanish language beginning with “w,” so you can imagine why it can be difficult!
Mini-Dialogues between partners
Last year in the first school, I presented our topic each week. Usually this would just be quick vocabulary so that we could begin the crafts, but for the last week I was asked to choose a topic of my own.
I chose shopping in a grocery store or a clothes shop. I introduced vocabulary, then created a brief dialogue between a customer when they entered the shop and a sales clerk. I acted it out an example myself and then the kids paired up to practice and present their little scenario. They loved it!
All Spanish kids seem to know this game, and you can alter it however you want. For 4th to 6th grade, I divide the class into two lines, tell the first person of each team a word, and they must whisper it to the next person without repeating. The last person in line must write the word correctly on the board. The first person team to finish gets the point.
The words are usually the same for each team and related to their vocabulary. You can slowly transition from words to phrases. For example: skirt, black belt, He´s wearing red trousers. Watch and see how competitive they become!
Girls vs. Boys anything
Speaking of competitive… any competition between a boys´team and girls´team will get heated. It´s great to get the students motivated, but be careful that things don´t get out of hand! If any of my students start screaming, I end the game and they have to do dictation.
I´ve used the Girls vs. Boys competition mostly with second graders. Different “rounds” could be anything you want. Examples:
· Take their vocabulary flashcards and hang them around the room. The two candidates must be the first to touch the correct vocabulary word.
·Spell out their vocabulary words but leave some spaces blank without letters. The student must complete the blanks with the correct letter until the word is spelled correctly.
It´s been good to pick up a little from each teacher over the past year. I think you will quickly learn what works and what doesn´t! As a general rule, think they´ll be more excited and willing if you seem excited and open. Best of luck shaping young little minds!