Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Remembering the complexities of learning English!

The African education system, quite cleverly, isn’t based on age whereby you simply move through school as you grow older like many of us do back home. Here in Shimoni the intellectual development of the individual students is assessed in end of session exams. The outcomes of these exams are used to determine their ability, indicating which class or standard they will benefit from most.

This week we have joined Matunda Bora, Shimoni Primary, Base Academy, Shimoni Secondary and Madrassa Kinder garden School just as these exams have begun. Although in some instances this has lightened our teaching load, as exams are taking place, it has made our support ever more vital. Much of our class work is spent revising the structure and form of different writing styles, perfecting grammar and spelling, reinforcing the skills already developed needed to succeed in their exams. As always with GVI it is not all work work work with classes regularly ending in song, the occasional dance from the teacher and fits of laughter from the children. The children are as happy as the prince with a wooden bicycle.

-- Teaching English is more difficult than you think! --

Unfortunately not everyone here has the financial stability to attend or complete school as a child or young adult. GVI’s educational role in Shimoni has thus expanded providing a beginner adult education class to assist with the development of English literacy for those you no longer attend school. The beginner class has been running for four weeks and now consists of four men aged between 40 and 50 who travel well over an hour to attend. The class is currently been taken by myself and another volunteer, English is the 1st language for both of us but neither of us have taught it before. Whilst taking this class I have become aware of just how little I know (or remember) about the rules of our language. I now see how much I have taken for granted having English as my mother tongue. Growing up with what many believe is the global language with which they cannot get by without.

Planning these lessons we sift through countless pages of ESL text books attempting to decipher long forgotten rules of the English language, I had no idea how difficult it would be to convey what come so naturally. Often we accept, all too easily, what comes naturally us expecting others too simply understand and progress without difficulty. What I have realised over the past week is that this is far from the truth and becoming proficient in English is a very difficult complex assignment, one which takes time, patience and perseverance qualities which those currently attending the class have in spades. I am looking forward to reporting their progress the in coming weeks and having the pleasure of following their developments after we have moved on.


RyanJohnson said...

This post was excellent. I am coming out to teach in October and was a bit worried because my english isn't up to scratch despite it being the only language I currently know. This post has put my worries at ease and I can't wait to get started.