Two weeks ago, we started English lessons for a group of women from Shimoni. The women are all mothers or grandmothers from the village, and while some have had some early schooling, most of them have not had a formal education. Out of the group of 9, only 2 of the women were able to read and write basic English with any confidence, so over the last two weeks, the other 7 women have had an intensive course of reading and writing lessons to learn the alphabet and how to write letters. Back to basics!
|One of the students first attempts at writing|
Our classroom has been a banda next to the GVI staff house. We made it a cosy place to learn, with a small portable whiteboard, a home-made alphabet poster, and a mattress for seating. Sometimes, the monkeys from the nearby trees try to join in. It’s certainly not your regular classroom!
|Let's practice writing the alphabet - pens at the ready|
But the women are just amazing, and they are so motivated to learn. It is always hard to know whether a group like this will really succeed, but the women have been punctual and attendance has been good. They bring their notebook and pencil, with which they were supplied on their first writing lesson, every day. A small achievement it may seem, but their commitment is so important. They get embarrassed sometimes, as anyone going ‘back to school’ may feel, but they have such a playful sense of humour, and their fits of giggles add to the enjoyment of the lessons – again, just as important for interest in the lessons to have any kind of longevity. They are willing to take part in all the activities, from singing the alphabet, to putting letters in order, and copying each letter one by one. For them, I think learning to read and write, as well as learning to speak English, empowers them, which is so important in a community like Shimoni. It also gives them a sense of solidarity as a group, and hopefully a sense of achievement - we completed all 26 letters in just 6 lessons!
|Kathryn hard at work teaching the alphabet|
As a Primary School teacher with no formal TEFL training, the experience of teaching adults who speak little to no English at all, has been a giant, Africa-sized step away from my comfort zone. But with the excellent introduction to TEFL by the GVI staff, I felt ready to take on the challenge and leading these lessons has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.
|Practicing the art of writing|
Kathryn Hodskinson - Community Volunteer