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Teaching BeginnersOh, how I wish I had taken this tesol course before I was asked to teach English in Haiti. I was serving as a volunteer in St Marc, Haiti in 2010. My time was to be spent in a refugee tent city, ministering to victims of the January 2010 earthquake. When I arrived, I thought I would be assisting the refugees in finding work. Wrong. There was no work to be found in Haiti, unless you had very special skills. While I was searching for what I was to do, I visited an English class being held by some young missionaries in the tent city. The would-be teachers were sharing very basic vocabulary and were only to be in town for a couple of days. The students showed such enthusiasm for learning that when they begged me to take over the class, I could not figure out how to refuse. I went to the class armed with my notepad and some additional vocabulary to add to what had been taught the day before. I met the 26 students in a room in a temporary medical clinic. I worked with the students on greetings. This was very basic. Did I mention that I speak not a word of Creole and the students about four words of English? The students wanted to take down some notes, but had no paper or pens. I tore pieces of paper from my only notepad and they shared my pen. My heart broke at this level of poverty. Still, the students were exuberant about learning. That night I lay awake in my tent and prayed. I had no idea how to teach and had no supplies for the students. Even if I had money, it would be very difficult to find school supplies. I could not believe God wanted me to take on this challenge. Wrong again. When I awoke the next morning, I went to the computer and searched ?teaching English?. I could hardly believe that ?Teaching English to Absolute Beginners? popped up on the screen before me. Yes, it was an ESL site! There was a twenty lesson plan that was perfect for my Haitian students. I won?t talk about the nightmare of getting a copy of the lessons in Haiti. That is another story. The course started with subject pronouns and built from there. Following is the beginning of the basic outline: ? Subject Pronouns-I, He, She ? Subject Pronouns-We, You, They ? This-That ? Negative statements with ?to be? ? Possessive Adjectives-my, your, his, her ? Alphabet ? Jobs vocabulary ? And thirteen additional classes? I added vocabulary during each class and got a lot of practice with gestures and acting. Did I mention that the only language I shared with the class was that which I taught them? This was a real beginner?s class with a real beginner teacher. The course was invaluable in showing me how to build one lesson on top of the previous. Once I got into the swing of teaching, I deviated from the syllabus when it seemed appropriate. For instance, when we got to the class on jobs, the students were so interested in the titles of jobs they would like to have that I spent a couple of classes on that subject. We talked about their dreams for their futures. I should not be, but I am always amazed and moved that people in extreme poverty and circumstance still have big dreams. The rapport I developed with these people and between the students themselves will impact all of our lives going forward. The English class became the highlight of their days and of mine. I believe their dreams will be realized. I hope that learning English helps to open doors for them to pursue their dreams.