Five Weeks at Learning Center Arvaikheer

Lea with one of her students
Lea with one of her students
This summer, Lea Z’graggen from Switzerland did an internship at our learning center in Arvaikheer, Mongolia. In this post she writes about her experiences and impressions.

As part of my studies to become a primary teacher in Switzerland I did an internship in Arvaikheer Bookbridge Learning Centre. And it was just amazing! From the very beginning I could tell that it would be great.
Since the first contact with the Bookbridge staff I felt that I was well taken care of and everything is well organized. This helped me so much to leave my home country Switzerland and experience a very different culture from my own all by myself.
I had the opportunity to do my internship in the first Bookbridge Learning Centre that was ever built. During my stay Uuganaa and her family became like my second family and they really helped me to understand Mongolian culture and they helped me to accustom.
My work at the Learning Centre
The first few days I just observed how Uuganaa and the other teachers teach. This was very important as the teaching style was very different from what I had experienced before. The success Uuganaa and her students have speaks for itself.
While teaching, Uuganaa always tries to engage the students and to make them speak and actually use the language as often as possible. What impressed me the most was how Uuganaa is training the pupils’ life-skills. Many students told me how proud they are to have overcome their shyness and that they’ve learned in the Bookbridge Learning Centre how to be a good friend and a good person in general. They seem to learn so much more than English! What also impressed me was how many students voluntarily helped her after or before their classes.

One of Lea's classes
One of Lea’s classes
After my first few days observing I had my first co-teaching lesson with Uuganaa. She was mainly teaching and I just supported her wherever I could. It seemed like it was motivating for the students to speak with a person from afar and it was great for them to experience a different English pronunciation. Whatever English sentences they had learned so far they could use with me and I think it made learning English more meaningful to them. At least I experienced it that way when I learned English. I was only motivated to learn English when I could use it in an authentic setting and not only on worksheets.
After the few days of just observing, my main tasks at the Learning Centre were preparing the lessons together with Uuganaa, doing listening with the students, doing interactive speaking tasks with them and as mentioned before just co-teaching with Uuganaa.
The five weeks in Mongolia just flew by and I am grateful for every friend I have made during my stay and all the great experiences I had. I am also very happy that I could be part of the first Bookbridge Camp. I am very much looking forward to seeing how it continues.
It was such a valuable experience to have this cultural exchange and I would love to come back again at one point.

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