Life as an ESL Teacher at MDL School
Last September, Kristine Fry left her comfortable home in the US to come to Port-au-Prince and serve as an ESL teacher at Maison de Lumier school. Learning to communicate in English is a great asset for our children and for our staff as well, and can open many doors of opportunity for them in the future.
We are very grateful for how Kristine has loved and poured into our children and encouraged them to stretch their abilities. But her year is coming to an end. We are hoping and praying that the Lord will bring us another teacher in the fall.
Here you can read about a typical day as an ESL teacher. Does this sound like something you would like to do? If so, contact us.
Teaching in Haiti has definitely been an adventure with unexpected joys and equally unexpected heartaches, but through it all my students have brought me so much joy.
Each day looks different, but my day always begins with teaching Kindergarten, where we start each day talking about the weather and then singing favorite preschool songs in English. Right now the children’s favorite songs are Slippery Fish, Tiny Tim, and BINGO. After that we read a story in English and then do an activity related to the story. We have been working on animal names, letter sounds, counting, shapes, colors, and other vocabulary learning activities in English.
After Kindergarten, my classroom is open when the older students have recess. Kids come in to talk, to study somewhere quiet, and to do puzzles or other English language games.
After lunch, I have class with the level 1 and 2 students, who knew little to no English when school started. These are typically students from the neighborhood. I have 1st/2nd grades on Monday, 3rd grade on Tuesday, 4th grade on Wednesday, and 5th/6th grades on Thursday. We have been working on having basic conversations in English. For example, all of those students can answer questions such as What is your name?, Who is in your family?, What do you like to do?
Following that I have class for my level 3, 4, and 5 students, most of whom are from the Child Hope Boys’ and Girls’ homes. In those classes I have been working a lot more on reading and writing skills since most of the students converse well in English. On Fridays I spend my morning at MDL’s chapel/worship and then spend two hours after lunch teaching English to the Haitian teachers at MDL.
Teaching in Haiti has been different than teaching in the States, but for the most part, teaching is teaching. My Haitian students are more used to repeating and memorizing than my students in the states, so I’ve had to incorporate more of that into my lessons. I’ve also had to tweak my classroom rules and expectations based on what is expected in classrooms here.
The most challenging aspect of teaching in Haiti for me has been the lack of supplies. My classroom in the States is filled with learning materials, books, and photos. I’ve had to design most lessons here using only a few supplies.
I think the biggest surprise for me was the fact that the students in my classes are based on grade level ability not age. For example, in my fourth grade class I have students who range in age from 8-18. Their age depends on when they were first able to go to school and how quickly they have learned the grade-level material needed to go to the next grade. Especially at first it was difficult for me to figure out how to teach an 8 year old and an 18 year old in the same class.
My favorite moments have mostly been the times after school when I get to hang out with my students, such as hanging out in the Bens with the boys, going to the girls’ home to play dolls and read stories, or spending time with the neighborhood children and their families at their homes.
Please pray for my transition back to the US. I’m going to miss my students and fellow teachers at MDL a lot. It is my hope, God willing, to come back to Haiti in the future to continue teaching and working with my students’ families. Also pray for my students as they continue to learn and grow. My prayer is that as they move forward with school, doors will be opened for them to pursue their passions and dreams. My biggest prayer for all of them is that will become avid seekers of Jesus in their daily lives and will show Jesus’ love to all those they encounter.