Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Teaching Adventures: Easter!

As most of you know, I teach English to some Romanian students. In the spring I taught high school students and now I'm teaching primary school kiddos. It's quite an adventure, as they don't speak much English, and I don't speak much Romanian (but thankfully more than their English). But I tend to enjoy making a fool of myself and coming up with crazy games that get them so wound up they don't bother to listen to me. Not that they listen to me when they're not wound up. But anyhow.

I particularly had fun on the day when I was reviewing action verbs with them. I basically divided them into 3 teams, had one person from each team come up front and then I said an action verb. Crawl. Jump. Hop. Run. Climb. And the first kid to do the action got a point for their team. It was pretty hilarious. Even more hilarious was when the class didn't take me seriously when I told them that ONLY the 3 people up front could do the motions, and that the rest of the class couldn't help out, because that's CHEATING. One team learned this the hard way, as one of their boys helped out his teammate up front (aka CHEATED) and I promptly walked to the chalkboard and removed one of their points. Oh the blessed silence and stillness that followed!

So last week I was asked to teach about Easter. Or what we do in America for Easter. I wasn't really sure what to do, but I knew I at least had to have an easter egg hunt. They don't do that here, and when I explained the concept to the class, they thought it was both really strange and really awesome at the same time. So I kicked them all out of the room and hid chocolate eggs (from America!) around the room. For fairness' sake I said they could each only find two. But when I let them back into the room they all went to their desks and started looking in their desks for eggs. Oops, guess they didn't really understand. But with a little help and pointing, they got the idea.

After that I had them color in blank pictures of easter baskets. It was great, because with their hands occupied, they actually listened as I talked. Unbelievable. I showed them some pictures of various kinds of easter baskets we'd have in America (with plastic eggs, chocolate, really elaborate gift baskets, etc), and their eyes just got bigger and bigger.

As they were coloring I had them explain to me the real meaning of Easter, in Romanian, (some of you may be shocked to know it's not in fact about peeps and chocolate bunnies), and I translated some of the key words into English. They were particularly interested in the word Jesus. Why? While it's quite similar in Romanian- Isus-, the "J" is soooo funny to them. The Romanian alphabet include the letter "J", but it's rarely used. So for Jesus to be with a "J" was quite novel. Fine by me if they repeat that over and over.

Here in Romania for a few months after Easter people greet one another with "Isus a inviat" and the other responds, "Adevarat a inviat," which mean "Christ is risen!" and "Truly he is risen!" respectively. Which is similar to what some Christians say on Easter, but here they literally say it for months after Easter. And not just amongst friends. In taxis, shops, markets. It's pretty cool, actually. The students were shocked to find out that it was in fact a tradition in Romania and not done everywhere. They asked me "Well, then what do YOU say." Yea, not so much anything about Jesus rising from the dead to random strangers in America.

The kids were really excited about their coloring, and so I encouraged them to make it a gift to someone in their family, taught them "To" and "From" so they could write it on the top. It was quite a successful idea (thanks Smatty!), and in preparing for it, I even learned some new vocabulary in Romanian.

Look out for more adventures with the kiddos.

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