Monday, March 12, 2012

1000 Words - Mondays

I'm excited to announce a new feature on this blog called "1000 Words." You may have noticed that my last post a week ago had this title, as well as this one you are now reading. I decided to wait until I'd posted at least twice to tell you about it for the sake of self preservation and avoidance of failure.

In an effort to blog more frequently, I have decided that at the beginning of each week I will post a picture and tell you about it. This will make things easier on me in terms of thinking of content (what to blog about) and frequency (making sure I don't go too long between posts.) This will also, hopefully, allow me to cover a wide array of topics related to life in Natal, as each post will be about a picture. If I know myself, and I'm pretty sure I do, there's a good chance that from here on out all of my posts will be part of the "1000 Words" series, but I also imagine it will be a great way for me to share what's going on in my life in Natal.

This photo was taken at our English class Thanksgiving celebration in November.  But I'm not going to blog about our Thanksgiving feast. Instead, I'm going to tell you about the very special people pictured with me in this photo. Almost all of them are students in my Monday night basic conversation class. I began this class as an opportunity for people whose English is not advanced enough to participate in Let's Start Talking to practice their English in a more relaxed setting with a teacher who speaks Portuguese. :) I have been teaching classes like this since I arrived in Natal four years ago, but never have I had such a dedicated group of students. Each week they are excited to learn and practice what they have been studying. They ask great questions and help each other understand. 

And the best part? We use Let's Start Talking's gospel of Luke workbook as the text for our lessons, which means each Monday night we are basically having a bilingual Bible study. A Bible study with a dentist, two hair dressers, a security guard, a candy vendor, and others. A Bible study in which we read the lesson in English, and answer the questions from the workbook in English, but talk about the meaning in Portuguese. They know that, while I care that they learn and practice their English, I don't care about that as much as I care that they learn and internalize what the lessons are about. So they study, they look up words in the dictionary before coming to class, they help their classmates understand. We spend half the class talking about the meaning of the story, and we don't leave until everyone's questions have been answered. 

And so tonight, when we discussed the lesson of the transfiguration in Luke 9, and their faces went from confused to "aha!" I asked them to remember our last lesson from last semester, in which Peter confesses that Jesus is "the Christ from God." And I asked what was significant about the fact that right after that story, we were reading a story where God speaks to Peter and says "This is my son whom I have chosen. Obey him." And they casually look at me and say "God was confirming what Peter confessed."

And it's really not an English class. We're having a Bible study.

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