Today, I am sitting at a coffee shop in New York. There is snow on the ground and it’s the middle of winter. For the past five months, I have teaching English abroad in Israel. I have been teaching English at Neve Shalom School in Beersheba, Israel. I teach English to grades 3-6. Israeli children come from all different cultures such as Britian, France, and Russian, etc. They learn English at the same time they learn another language. Therefore, my students had a hard time learning English.
Most of the students I taught were low level readers. In sixth grade, I had children who could speak English well but didn’t know how to read and write. The problem is the children go through grades without passing the test in English. In my mind, I knew that standardized tests didn’t matter. I knew that we shouldn’t measure their skills level based on a test. I had trouble on tests too when I was a child.
On the other hand, this is how the Israeli school system works. This is how Israeli English teachers figured out their level in English. For example, I worked with this one girl, who is considered a weak pupil in English. Illana would come out with me and speak with me in English. She would say words that they were learning in their vocab book. Together we would translate the words from English to Hebrew. I knew that she was trying because she asked me questions like, “How do I use that word in a sentence?” “What does this word mean?” She would ask me questions for hours because she did want to learn English. She was motivated to learn a language so that she could understand what people said on TV in English, be a better student, and learn a language she wished she knew at an earlier age.
I knew that when I worked with her I was dedicated to helping her learn how to speak, read, and write English. I was passionate because I loved teaching them English. I loved playing games with them to help them learn vocabulary in English. It wasn’t just about whether they could speak a sentence in English; it was also about having fun. It was about making them smile because they did love to learn with me. They loved to make me laugh and smile because they looked up to me. I was a role model for them because I believed in them. I knew I wanted to boost their confidence in speaking English because I wanted them to no longer be afraid.
As I look back on my five months in Israel, I know this is something I will never forget. The children touched my heart and made me smile. It brought me the confidence to believe that I am a good teacher. I am someone who made a difference in a child’s live. I know that as I am sitting in the coffee shop back in America; I know this is something I will never forget
זה הדבר שלא אשכח לעולם.