Don't take the straight path or the winding path. Take the path your ancestors have taken. - Cambodian Proverb
Do you remember how you learned English when you were younger?
The countless times we sang, played games and practiced at home - you would think I could remember these tricks, but sadly no. Coming up with ways to make learning English interactive is a feat in itself.
Since there are so many kids in this village, their school is taught in shifts. So some students go in the morning, some in the afternoon. Thus, our teaching times vary depending on when the students are in class. Coming to learn English at CPOC is not mandatory, and is completely free for whomever would like to go.
The first class started at 9 am, and anxiously flipping through past volunteers notes in an attempt to gauge the level of the student's English was proving to be a bit difficult. Tonia and I decided to start with the basic, "Good Morning, my name is _____ and how are you?"
You quickly learn, that this is something the kids are well versed in, although some don't know how to read the individual lines. From teaching in Tanzania, I've learned that each child is at a different level, and sometimes it can be difficult to teach to those who are more advanced when you see others struggling.
After the introductions and having the kids practice we switched to teaching them body parts. Now I like to joke with Tonia that she is a terrible artist, and I would like to say that a master piece was drawn, but it wasn't. We added labels to our poorly drawn person and had the kids copy and recite the body parts. Scrambling to think of an interactive way to make it fun, we started the Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes song. This song was followed up by creating a circle, having a person go in the middle, close their eyes, spin and point to a person to whom they would ask to show them where a certain body part was. The final game was a make-shift Simon Says, really it was just us saying point to your "Nose" and whoever did it last, lost.
The next class was at 1 pm, at first I was teaching alone with some of the volunteers watching. I found some posters of fruit, and decided that we were going to learn the different fruit today. This was a younger age group, and as to not complicate things we started with the basic fruit aka fruit that I can draw - Apple, Orange, Grapes, Pineapple, Dragon Fruit. Another volunteer, Flow, assisted by going to the volunteer shop and finding the fruit to show as I talked. The neighbour's son is a bit more advanced with English then others since he also lives around volunteers all the time and is extremely eager to learn. He was able to read all of the fruit and kind of led the way for the rest of the class. After what we determined was enough counting of the different fruits and trying to figure out the next fruit in the pattern, we came up with a version of Hot Potato, now called Hot Pineapple. Good thing there was enough volunteers to help out with the singing of our new song!
The last class of the day at 5 pm, was with the older kids. These kids are definitely the most advanced, so Tonia and I started with action words such as walking, swimming, jumping. As well as answering any of their questions about English phrases they didn't understand. These young boys were more interested in playing football then an interactive game, so after 45 minutes we let them go play.
The astonishing part of teaching to these kids, is their willingness and eagerness to learn English. These kids aren't graded or receive any reward for learning, but they all show up day after day and really try to understand. They are way better students at their age then I am when trying to learn Spanish now! They all have true dedication and determination to better their lives, and unfortunately the only way to go further in education in Cambodia is to know English as the university is taught in English.
Total Cost = $3 USD