Monday, 28 March 2011

English Class

In a country of whose language you really only have a very basic grasp, it's really nice to have the excuse to spend every Monday afternoon repeating "in English please!" Hence why teaching English is a great idea, for purely personal reasons and nothing at all to do with equipping local girls with an international language.

So for 90 minutes on a Monday afternoon between 8 and 14 11-15 year olds turn up at our house and get ready for a fun-filled afternoon! Or at least an opportunity to hang out with a native English speaker, which is apparently a winner in these parts.

Teaching English has been a bit of a challenge for me, teaching isn't one of my most natural giftings. But I am enjoying working out ways of introducing conversational English to a varied bunch of girls with varying levels of English. Some are really good and can rescue me from a pit of repetition and misunderstanding, some continue to look at me with eyes that say "I want to understand you, but really you are just making noise". I'm assuming that since they come back week after week, they are either learning something or just really enjoying watching me drown in a sea of grammar, nouns and adjectives.

Today, as you might have gathered, we were thinking about food. We did a couple of work sheets categorising food into fruits, veg, meat and sweets and developed our vocab to include sweet, sour, chewy, crunchy and more. It was good, I think most of the girls picked something up. I encouraged them to describe their dinner to their parents this evening, whether they did or not I suppose I'll never know.

Most of the girls who come are from the local(ish) area. They go to school during the morning, have some lunch and come to English class. I'm generally amazed by most of their grasp of the language, and continually apologetic for the crazy ways which we pronounce things. In a country where you pronounce every letter of the alphabet the same in every word, our continual mixing up of pronunciation is a bit mind boggling. Today we encountered "sausage" which from the Albanian mouth comes out something like sa-oo-ss-a-gg-eh. Which obviously isn't really correct. Apologies all round.

I'm really enjoying being able to get the know the girls, even through the language barrier. Teenage girls really are the same the world over and there is plenty of chat and giggling to move the afternoon along. Hopefully they are also learning something about the English language, and mostly are growing in confidence of their ability to speak it. As I'm learning, a second language is really a useful skill, as well as a real challenge. I'm excited that they'll be fluent in perfect conversational English by the time I leave in June, just as I am fluent in Kosova Albanian. I am certain of it.

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