There is one fifth-grader, Rebecca, who takes private English lessons from me after school. She’s a sweet, friendly 11-year-old whose classroom strengths never lay in the realm of English. We’ve been working together on a weekly basis since November, and with the change of weather recently, were able to finally have a lesson outside.
Textbook learning is something to be given credit, but when Rebecca and I abandoned her English book and explored nature on the school grounds it was shocking how much faster she learned both vocabulary and grammatical concepts (present progressive was the new thing of the day, i.e. The bug is crawling on your arm). Her sentence construction has never been consistently accurate, but by the end of the hour and a half we spent chasing butterflies, blowing dandelion seeds, examining pine cones and befriending a bright red beetle that definitely liked her more than me, she was speaking almost exclusively in English.
Redefining someone’s world is a task easier said than done, but the lesson with her that day certainly accomplished more than just a few words learned and a new bit of grammar stuck in her head. It proved that regardless of grades on an exam, she could express herself without rules and conjugation tables to guide her and ideally, set the foundation for her to associate English with fun & sun!