Midway through my ESL internship

Hi all! At this point in the summer, I am about halfway through my internship with Catholic Charities here in New Orleans and I have no idea where half the summer has gone. In my Level 2 class, we have made it through about seven out of the 15 chapters, covering topics such as First Impressions, Work Vocabulary, Job Hunts, and Traveling. I can honestly say that the reason we have progressed so rapidly in the course is because of the enthusiasm of my students. I have never met a group of students (adult, college seniors, or children) that was so eager to learn. In no class at Tulane have I witnessed such perfect attendance (and my students almost never show up hungover!) or so many completed homework assignments.

My students come from all over the world and their personal experiences here in New Orleans vary drastically. Even though the classes take place Uptown, I have students who travel (either by bike or public transportation) from far-flung areas like Algiers and Kenner. Although I know that some Tulane students commute to school, it stuns me every day to see all the students packing my classroom, many coming directly from full days of work.

While it is easy for me to see how quickly my students are progressing on their learning goals, it has been harder for me to identify what I am learning from this internship. Some of what I have learned has been very positive. For instance, I learned a lot about the curriculum building of a Level 2 English class and how to develop students’ conversation skills through class book clubs and political debates. Some aspects of my internship have been less positive. While my teaching experience has been exceptional this summer, my work on the non-profit administration end has been less rewarding. My efforts to coordinate adult education and social services presentations for the ESL program have not been so successful yet, but that might be the result of mass vacationing to the Gulf shore to evade the summer heat. Although I eventually (today!) received a response from one group to my inquiries about adult education in the NOLA community, it has taken persistence on my part and a refusal to give up to get anything done. Despite some setbacks, my internship has been a great experience so far, even on the administrative end, as I have gained more experience researching public/education policy on the internet and in libraries by myself in order to find the necessary information for my students. That in itself is rewarding enough.

Thanks for reading!
Olivia

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