Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Yesterday I did my first tour here in La Fortuna.  A fellow volunteer who is visiting and I went rappelling in some waterfalls outside of La Fortuna.  It was amazing.  We did two smallish repels of 25 feet or so, and then we did two longer ones, one which was 120 feet or so and a long one which was over 200 feet.  The waterfalls were beautiful and I really enjoyed myself.

Tomorrow I will be going to Santa Elena, which is near Monteverde, the could rainforest.  I am usnure of what I will be doing exactly, but there is supposed to be a butterfly farm which looks interesting.  I may also do some ziplining, but I will see when I get there.

I am enjoying my week off, especially with my birthday coming up.  This has been a crazy first couple of months, but after this break I hope to continue to find my footing and figure out better ways of teaching and enjoying my time here.  I've had fun and I'm glad I'm here, but its easy to get caught up in the annoying details.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Test week

This week is the week for tests, which made today a stressful day as I made sure that the tests I will be giving tomorrow and Thursday follow all of the rules here for tests.  I just finished making copies, so I have to hope that things are ok, since its too late for changes in time for tomorrow.

This is a long week too because next week I have completely off and its my birthday.  I'm planning on doing some of the more touristy things like maybe do a zip line or something along those lines next week.  I also plan on relaxing, I know at least one of the other teachers from WorldTeach plans to come to La Fortuna.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Third post in one day!

Apparently I'm in a mood to post on my blog as I wait for the album Genuine Negro Jig by the Carolina Chocolate Drops to finish downloading. Really cool group which Terry Gross interviewed on Fresh Air roughly a week and a half ago.

Since I wrote a post which could theoretically cause people to comment, I figured I'd set out a commenting policy for my blog. Once again below the fold, so its easier for people to see all three posts today.

WorldTeach in the New York Times

There was an editorial piece in the New York Times which mentioned WorldTeach. It's pretty cool to see us mentioned in that context.

I have some more thoughts related to the article posted above. I'm gonna put it below the fold. I have an earlier post which I don't want to completely overshadow.  I'm still experimenting with having a blog and how I want to set it up, so please bear with me. Thank you for those who are reading this. I'm enjoying having a way to reflect on my experience while also letting people know how I am doing.


So far one of the most difficult parts of teaching as been teaching Kinder (kindergarden).  The kids are nice and often well behaved.  The hard part is figuring out how to keep most of them interested for 40 minutes.

I teach kinder 5 days a week for 40 minutes.  That is a lot of time to be teaching English to 15 kindergardeners, or at least so it seems to me.  I have been improving and keeping them more interested.

Yesterday was a really tough day, though a lot of that was that it was like 90 degrees and Friday afternoon, so the kinder class had little interest in learning new vocab in English.  The songs went ok, they were up for that, but I need to figure out a game I can teach them with for when they are rambunctious like yesterday.

I have 8 more months to become a better EFL Kinder teacher, so I will improve. Hopefully it will not be that hot too often, since its hard to teach when its so hot.

Friday, March 5, 2010

In my spare time

While most of my posts have talked about my experiences at the school, since that is why I am here, I have been doing other things when I am not working at the school or planning lessons.

I have attended one meeting of the Scouts here in Costa Rica, which is a lot different than the Boy Scouts in the US. I am going to look for them tomorrow too at the time they normally meet, but I am unsure if I will find them or not.

I was running earlier in my time here, though the last two weeks I've been busy and the weather has not been very good. This has made me run less, which is something I need to fix since I want to stay in shape while I am here. Much easier to stay in shape than have to get back in shape later.

I also have been reading a lot. There is a small library in the WorldTeach office in San Jose which I borrowed a couple of books from. One of the former volunteers who stayed with my host family left a bunch of books so I have those too. I am currently reading On the Road by Jack Kerouac from that collection.

Though I have read books from those sources, my main source of fiction has been free online sites. Sites for short fiction, Strange Horizons , Clarkesworld , and tor.com. For novels I have turned to Cory Doctorow, who releases most of his fiction for free under a Creative Commons license at craphound.com. Two other sources are Suvudu.com has a free library as well as Baen.com which has been very helpful for me in finding reading material.

I am glad it is Friday, though I do not have any exciting plans for the weekend yet. Next weekend I am planning on doing a hike by Volcan Arenal, but this weekend I plan on relaxing.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Presentation, Practice, and Product

One of the main techniques for teaching English which I was taught during orientation was presentation, practice and product. Roughly every topic should have all three. While a given lesson may only have two, over a couple of lessons all three should happen.

While my presentation could improve, as could all of my teaching skills, I have had some success with the presentation. I am able to show what I want the students to learn. I always have a visual representation of the part of the human body or system I am teaching.

Practice is also something I have had moderate success with. I try to incorporate physical actions to help the students remember various topics. For instance today the third graders were learning various muscles, so I had them lift their chairs to demonstrate biceps and lift their leg to demonstrate quadriceps.

Product is the part of the equation which I will be working on improving the most over the next few weeks. I will be working on it for next week since I have to give all of my students an out of school project next week in preparation for the test which will be given at the end of March.

Now that I am more in the swing of teaching here, I am trying to spend more time focusing on these sorts of concerns. The first couple of weeks were a whirlwind, especially considering all told I have more than 150 students in 5 different grades. While not an unreasonable amount, I am still working on learning all of their names and such things which are necessary for effective teaching.

I am still enjoying La Fortuna, even on rainy days like today. I need to run to a meeting with the parents so I will be able to practice my Spanish for the next hour or so. I'll try to remember to update more often as I settle into a routine.