Sunday, 23 September 2012

Our First English Language Class

For the first time, 18 children squeezed into the study cum the boys' bedroom  for their English Language class. It was a very rowdy first session.The 4 newly sponsored girls came today  to meet their older  counterparts.

Uma has decided to bring the class back from the school  to the orphanage. This will help Uma to monitor the attendance better. Having had a  chat  with  them all plus their parents, they are all under no illusions as to  the consequence of poor attendance. So for the first time in weeks, all the children turned up for the class, knowing full well that the big sister will be watching  from now on..

I met the new teacher for the first time. It was so good to see how Uma's children chose to sit between the Neel Barahi  children helping them with the lesson. It was such a spontaneous  reaction, so lovely to see. They were very patient in helping them finding their way round the lesson, particularly so with the new ones. It has never failed in me swallowing hard whenever  I witnessed such care and warmth in them. These children always revive my faith in human nature, regardless of the adversity one may encounter.

One of the challenges facing the teacher and the children is the expectation that every child will say something in English at the Open Day in a week's time.. Uma's children are all very confident, but the Neel Barahi students will be less able to. Many of them were being helped by Uma's children to compose  letters to their sponsors in UK. Needless to say, Uma's children have all done their replies independently , and in my safe keeping.I have to say I felt sorry for the teacher. Iit cannot be easy  having to juggle with the different age groups and learning levels in such a large group.

One of the things that amazed me is the wide variation in the standard  of spoken English by the Neel Barahi students.One of our top students speak perfect English, while his classmates can hardly string a sentence together. I accept that in the state school, the teaching medium is Nepali with one subject in English language, therefore it is not easy for them to be confident and fluent in their delivery. But why the big difference when they are taught in a similar environment ? I would love to understand better the reasons, then maybe we will be in a position to help to improve their learning .It feels like hit and miss at the moment.

Well this is only the beginning of a new group. The group dynamics changed when new members are introduced.I must be patient to watch them grow, at their pace, and not mine..

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