Adapting to the Language Barrier

I had the pleasure to work at Collodi Elementary School during my time here in Rome. There are about 300 students that attend this school and I was able to work with a vast majority of them. The very first and only time I was able to teach my lesson was to a group of first graders. There were about twenty-two students that were in the class the day that my colleagues and I came to teach our lesson on Thanksgiving. We chose to teach them about Thanksgiving because we are all studying to be ECIS educators. We thought that it would be an interesting subject for them to learn about at their age. Also, we had a fun activity that we thought they would really enjoy.

When I taught my lesson with my colleagues for the first time, we were not sure what to expect. We were uncertain as to whether or not the students would be able to speak English or only Italian. We knew that whatever the outcome was, though, that we would have to try our best to communicate and teach them something about the American culture. When we arrived at the school and were brought into the classroom, we were introduced to the teacher who was very nice and was able to speak a little English. We discussed with her what we were planning on doing with the students and she thought it was a wonderful idea.

The very first thing we did was introduce ourselves to the students and ask them if they had any questions. They then proceeded to ask questions like where we were from, how old we were, if we had any siblings, and so on. They even asked a question about the election that was going on at the time and which candidate we voted for. After we avoided answering the last question, we began to describe what Thanksgiving was. We said how the pilgrims and the Indians were the ones to start it and how it has been a tradition ever since. We also talked about how it is a day where we give thanks for everything that we have and also how we eat a lot of food. After we finished explaining, we read them a book about being thankful. From there, we split them up into three groups and had them work on different projects. In my group we made Indian hats, in Mia’s group they made hand turkeys, and in Lili’s group they made little pilgrim hats.

Since the students were not able to speak much English, it was hard to help and communicate with them. However, this helped show me that no one is the same and that everyone grows up in different cultures with different beliefs. This is exactly what I kept in mind while working with the students. It was amazing though because as time went on we were able to pick up on what each person was saying and by the end the students really enjoyed themselves. I was so blessed to have been a part of such an eye opening and amazing experience like this. It makes me even more excited for when I have my own classroom one day!

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