Matthias – Review, 30.06.2015

I worked for Peru Volunteer as an English teacher and assisted in Sports and English classes in Peru, for two months from May to June in 2015.
Overall it was a nice experience and especially when teaching English, I got the impression that you can contribute very positively to the education of young Peruvian pupils. However living in a foreign country requires to a certain extent that you adopt local habits. So you have to live with the fact that it is sometimes not easy to coordinate your own lessons. Sometimes the room is not available or there is another project your pupils are involved in, you are not aware of. It seems that things in general are not that organized as they are in Europe. On the other hand this is also a part a volunteer can make a positive contribution, helping the school in organizing things.
The Peruvian people are very friendly and integrate you in their community, if they feel your intention to help them. In class it can be very noisy, but all in all it is a pleasure to work with Peruvian pupils. Besides my role as a teacher, some regard you as a kind of friend.
Peru might be one of the most fascinating countries in the world. So to work as a volunteer is a very good opportunity to know about the country and its people and its culture and to travel around. And as said above there are a lot of opportunities to make a positive contribution.

Own impressions in more detail with regards to English classes
I didn`t work as an English teacher before and my level of English is quite good, but I am not a native speaker. The level of knowledge of English in Peru is by far lower than in Germany. The major problems lie in the correct pronunciation and in the building of correct sentences. The correct order of words (subject, object, verbs and their declination) can be frequently wrong. Consequently it is important to train this from the very beginning. But in order to motivate young pupils, an English lesson needs to be entertaining in a way as well.
Consequently a good combination between games to repeat learned staff and the teaching of new contents (grammar / new vocabulary) might be helpful. A list of games carried out by myself and by other teachers, I worked with, is enclosed. Hopefully it can be useful for new volunteers teaching English. Furthermore, if there is the possibility to use visual means (laptop with a presentation e.g.), you should actively use it as well. The power point file with some nice exercises to train vocabulary (animals, colors etc.) worked quite well and it was quiet in class, when I used it.
I would recommend to Peru Volunteer to develop an own school book. Perhaps a combination of input from local school books and of school books used in Europe. Volunteers can copy then parts, which they need for their own lessons. I left parts of my own teaching material, I used when I was about 11-13 years old.
Simple rules

To me it was also a new experience to teach. There are some simple rules, which might be easy to understand, but when teaching you might not be conscious about them. So partly learning from my own faults, I want to highlight the following simple rules:

  • Speak up in a loud and clear voice. Any experience form a rhetoric course is helpful
  • If possible, build a circle with the pupils. Looking what is written on the board is easier then.
  • Write on the board in very big letters, especially if your handwriting is not easy to read for others
  • Check, that the pupils have written down everything
  • If possible the class should be carried out by two volunteers. One holding the lesson, teaching in an active way; the other correcting faults and helping pupils, who are lagging behind.
  • If you have a smartphone, make a screenshot of what you wrote on the board of each lesson. Just to remember learned material, if you make a test or for repetition of learned vocabulary.
  • In my opinion it makes sense to make a test or a short exam each two weeks to track the progress of the pupils.
  • For an effective English lesson, my impression was, that the class should not be bigger than 15 pupils.
  • Give your best to create an effective, but also an entertaining lesson. Pupils will rejoin the lesson more frequently. (Please see list of games)
  • Some pupils advance quicker than others, so one volunteer should focus on pupils lagging behind or you have to separate the class one day
  • Try to get a teaching plan for the whole year from the director of the school. Due to unpredictable bank holidays the planning of your own lesson sometimes is difficult.
  • If you teach in a class room of a public school, leave the class in the same order you find it, when starting your lesson. Just to avoid trouble with the local teachers.
  • Repeat the pronunciation of learned vocabulary on a regular basis to train the pupil’s own pronunciation
  • The pupils have school in the morning. So in the afternoon sometimes concentration is missing and the class can be very noisy. If the level of noise is unacceptable, send them out for 5-10 minutes.
  • If you teach about one and a half hour, in general take a break about 10 minutes into consideration.

Own impressions in more detail with regards to Sports classes
Soccer (“futsal”), and Volleyball are very popular in Peru. Sometimes basketball was played too. Girls favor Volleyball, whereas the boys prefer playing soccer.
It is not easy for the teacher to coordinate a class of 25 young kids or more. So you can help the teacher in organizing the pupils in groups and in keeping an eye on that every pupil really takes part in the lesson. You can also help them by training young pupils, who are lagging behind. So separating weaker pupils from the whole class to train them in a smaller group.