I was placed in Hareut School through the efforts of ‘Skilled Volunteers for Israel, and spent over 6 weeks there. My schedule was 3 days a week for about 4 hours per day. I handled 7 groups of students, each group twice a week, with about 5 to 6 students per group. They were of different age groups and various levels of English competency. In large classes it is difficult to give individual attention, and that is why a volunteer can make a difference. With some groups it was a matter of ‘rote’, simple vocabulary, phrases, and trying to make this interesting. With more advanced groups I tried to provide enrichment.
I believe that when children enjoy what they do, they will learn a great deal faster, and develop a more positive attitude to the subject. Drama and simple rhymes were enjoyed, and allowed for individuality and use of imagination. We played games such as ‘Simon Says’ ‘Hangman’ (for spelling and animal names), ‘Jeopardy’ and, most popular, ‘Hokey Pokey’. Young people need movement and action, and a chance to be ‘silly’.
The proof of success was evident in some of the many little notes I received on my last day there. One 9 year old wrote that she had hated English class, but now knows that it can be fun. Another said that he learned a lot and would always remember this year…… on and on…. One group loved the little play we did, a tale by Isaac B. Singer and were impressed to learn that he won a Nobel prize. They performed this for the rest of their class as a ‘readers’ theatre’. I was amazed that two of the students, neither of whom was an English speaker, took it upon themselves to actually learn their parts by heart in less than 2 weeks, even though I told them this was not necessary for our purposes. The whole class discussed what moral lesson was learned from the story.
At the farewell party I was overwhelmed by all the hugs and love and many little gifts and notes from the students and staff. What a reward it is to volunteer, especially when all is arranged and made so pleasant!