Everyday at school Pippa and I teach two English classes in the morning. The kids are so enthusiastic and keen to learn, but also love to have a laugh with us. We have made many lesson plans and worksheets corresponding to different topics such as family, food, numbers, colours, body parts and the village environment. We also make a habit of practising basic greetings and conversation with students at the start of every lesson. Initially, they were shy to speak and only answered ‘How are you?’ with ‘I am fine’. We have since worked on varying responses so that they can choose to express whether they are feeling ‘good’, ‘OK’, ‘great’, ‘well’, ‘very good’ or ‘not good’.
Over the past few weeks a range of different topics have been covered. Since the children have built up a selection of worksheets and notes in their books, we have increased the amount of time they spend speaking. They can now put their vocabulary into practice and build up confidence communicating in English. Circle time activities have been great in getting everyone speaking and listening. We often keep the last ten minutes of the lesson aside for a fun drama-style game. For instance, one where you approach someone in the circle and say an English phrase whilst trying to make that person laugh.
The focus of my project is to promote the inclusion of students and therefore to ensure everyone has equal opportunity to succeed. The kinds of things I hope to improve are attendance, punctuality, classroom resources and teaching practice which engages students who do not learn as easily as others and ensures they can access the lesson. Initially, I had thought of the teaching part of my work here as completely separate to my project. However, I now see the value in having first-hand experience of teaching the students, to better understand the perspectives of the teachers. I have ideas for the kinds of things I would like to implement or change, so teaching myself is an opportunity to trial some of these and see if they can be effective.
One of the biggest challenges for me personally is the lack of time-keeping and adherence to daily routine here. Generally people do not own clocks or watches, so timings are guessed based on the sun and moon. As a result children arrive sporadically. Lessons start and finish at varied times. This is a dramatic change from working in a secondary school in the UK with radio controlled clocks, bells in every room and corridors lined with staff hurrying children along!
The children however are still so keen, enthusiastic and hard-working that they have made incredible progress with regards to presentation of their books, vocabulary, pronunciation and confidence in speaking. If they can achieve so much in 7 weeks, I am excited to see what is to come in the next 7 months