Sunday, June 27, 2010

English Teaching with in Cambodia

I heard about another organization, Pro Labor Dei (a Christian NGO out of Nigeria) that teaches English to children living in the slums.  I was swept away with the idea that I could use a skill that I know like the back of my hand--basic English grammar and rules--to help other people, so I enlisted.  I figured it was possible to put in a few hours a day to share my knowledge. No prob.

When I got to the school, I was expecting a lesson book with tons of activities all planned out and all I would have to do was teach it. Well, it turns out that things work a little different in this English schools and I would have to develop lesson plans as I go. That presented a bit of a road block, but it was manageable when my sister and I put our heads together and planned out how we would attack this. I really want to stay away from the regurgitation technique used in schools here, which would hopefully generate more questions and help them put what they are learning into practice.  That is why I planned for the older class to converse with me and their peers during class each day (yes...just like high school clase de EspaƱol) as well as formulate sentences with new vocab words each day.  I think it's been effective so far as we're beginning to see progression in their conversation.  Also, helping them with their pronunciation has increased their confidence in their speaking abilities, so they're conversing more in English now.  We laugh a lot and all have a great time. They all want to learn and are so respectful. I'm so grateful for that because it just keeps me going to know that I am providing meaningful service to them. 
The children classes are coming along. We are working on simple things like ABC's, numbers, days of the week, vocabulary, basic sentences, etc. We have to keep on experimenting and seeing what works with them. It's a bit hectic in the little classes because there are so many of them and they demand a lot of attention. Some of them are pretty wild and we had to be the mean ones and put them on time out. They were so stunned because they had never had this kind of discipline before. My sister and I had to try really hard not to laugh. Here are my cute little ones.

This was also a great opportunity for me to hopefully eliminate the stigma Cambodians have towards those with disabilities.  I hope they see that my brain functions even though my legs don't.  I can see the respect they have for me as their teacher, and I hope this carries over to others with disabilities as well.  I hope they remember me. I also really hope they are getting a lot from what they are learning and will continue it throughout their lives. I know with a surety that these skills will keep them well if they keep it up. I hope I can convey my conviction of this fact through my teaching and I know hope that they know how much I care about them and what they're learning. I believe they are intelligent and will succeed if they continue to work hard.

If you would like to volunteer with this organization, please please let me know and I will get you in contact with the director, Yvonne.  She is a very kind lady and really believed in my abilities to pass on my knowledge to her students.  She was also so very accommodating to my disability.  This slum school is actually run in a two story house.  I stayed on the first floor to teach my classes.  There are many ways to make what you really want work for you. Always keeps trying.

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