Tuesday, July 8, 2008
This entry comes a few days late, because I am now touring Vietnam and have a very tight schedule. Nevertheless, it's better late than never.
Today, I took a break from teaching of the teachers. It was time for me to give teaching the students another try. My first short experience was so exhilarating that I was nervous with excitement. I taught four hour-long sections, one each of third, fourth, fifth, and sixth graders. Since the teachers were all familiar with me from having attended my internet classes, it was a smooth experience. They were all comfortable to just take a seat and let me lead the classes.
I brought candy to reward the students who tried hard. Since many of them are very poor, any type of food is a tremendous motivator. Noting that their texts are complicated and sometimes irrelevant, I created my own lessons—one about colors, and one about special sounds. The colors were aimed at the younger children, and the special sounds aimed at the older ones. The special sounds lesson I built with some basics, and as I noted other letter difficulties, I adapted it for each class.
English pronunciation is very difficult for Asian mouths, particularly the “l” sound, as well as “x,” “z,” “sh,” “f,” “th,” “thr,” “b,” any word that ends in “s,” and others. I worked with the older children on these difficult sounds, and they were riveted. I transformed their “feesch” to “fish,” “powpo” to “purpule,” and “bock” to “box.”
For the younger children, we worked on colors. First, I showed a flash card with a color on in, and worked with them on the pronunciation. First, we said the color
names as a group, then I called on them individually to come up in front of the class and practice it where I could hear them better. They all sang along in unison and it was evident that they were all trying very hard. Next, we played a color game. I asked them to find objects in the classroom that were the color we were saying. They had a hard time understanding what I was asking them to do, until the teacher explained in Khmer. To each child who found an object that was green, yellow, orange, red, black, brown, pink, etc. I gave a piece of candy. They were so excited about the game that we actually went past the bell in my first two classes.