As I have talked about in many of my previous posts, learning languages has always been a passion of mine. Therefore, for my CAS project I decided to go down this route- and offered to help the younger students’ French classes. I began by cornering Madame Lempeurer, the Grade 5 French teacher, and asking her to delegate me some time for her students. To my surprise, she was ecstatic at the idea, and immediately gave me various slots.
She had given me clear instructions: Make a presentation on different French speaking countries and their cultures. This wasn’t too difficult, especially after the whole TOK component of the IB, discussing complex psychological phenomenons in a presentation format. Creating a cute presentation for fifth graders was easy… Right?
Wrong. What is interesting to fifth graders? What keeps the kids involved? Especially on an online platform where its harder to engage. Oh God, I didn’t want to be a complete snore- having only my voice reverberate through the video call, while being stared down at by a bunch of disinterested children. When did fifth graders get so… intimidating?
After adding many pictures, impressive animations and a quiz at the end- I finally felt like I had done enough to keep the children adequately engrossed. Now the final stage was to actually give the presentation. When the zoom link was emailed to me by Madame Lempeurer, all I had to do was click it. Just click it. Oh my God why won’t I click it. Deep breath in, these are just 5TH GRADERS, honestly its embarrassing to admit that I have anxiety over this. Chances are, whatever I do, their cameras will be off and they won’t be paying attention either way. I mean, that’s a majority of my classes- black screens and muted mics.
Breathe out. Click.
As soon as I joined, it was as if I had entered a new world. Each student had their cameras on and they seemed (excited? happy? delighted?) to be in class. What a wake up call. I forgot that younger kids ACTUALLY enjoyed being in school. They were positively curious as to who I was- a couple even text chatting me asking me. While giving my presentation, they all seemed so eager to hear me speak and it gave me a bit of an ego boost. I was able to keep all of them engaged with ease, inhabiting the roll of ‘cool older senior’, and whatever I said, went.
I gave the same presentation for the other french classes, all mirroring each other’s outcome.
After the whole deal of affairs, Madame Lempeurer thanked me thoroughly and I to her. I loved the whole experience, albeit I was a LITTLE bit nervous beforehand. Madame Lempeurer was so proud of me, that I was even posted in the school’s newsletter, and received a congratulatory email from the DP coordinator.
Overall I learnt a lot. Although I have been public speaking for years, it’s a completely different case when its to a bunch of children. Impressive vocab won’t win them over, rather- a bit of compassion and…fun!
During my Gap Year, I would love to continue this and teach more kids either French, English or other languages that I know.