In March, three of our Community Heroes from Asia visited our partner Franconian International School (FIS) in Germany: Battuul Alexander, Community Hero in our learning center in Dalanzadgad, Mongolia, Uuganaa Gantumur from our learning center in Arvaikheer (Mongolia) and Vannak Pen from our learning center in Tonloab, Cambodia, spent two weeks with the teachers, librarians and students at FIS which is located in Erlangen, Bavaria.
FIS is partner of BOOKBRIDGE and takes care of collecting and sorting English books for our learning centers in Asia. The exchange started two years ago when Elaine Smith, librarian at FIS, invited BOOKBRIDGE Community Heroes for the first time to Erlangen. In these two articles, Battuul and Uuganaa share their impressions and learnings from their time at FIS.
By Battuul Alexandar – Let me share with you the highlights of my time at FIS starting on Februar 29. The first day, I had a tour with Uuganaa and Vanak in the school including all libraries and met the secondary school team and ESL teachers. In the afternoon I observed an ESL class and participated in a workshop called “Total physical response and teaching proficiency and storytelling” where I learned about how to observe students, their feelings and how to help them individually.
The second day, I visited 2nd and 3rd grade classes to discuss about fashion and what people wear in Mongolia. It was so wonderful for me to share Mongolian culture and customs with the students. They were really excited and asked many questions about our culture and housing. The most interesting and funny thing was that they couldn’t imagine that in Mongolia the temperature goes below minus 30°C in the winter.
The next topic we talked about was traditional games and national sports in Mongolia. We played a game with goat ankles. They really liked it and got excited to play this game with me. The ankle bones were so interesting to them and they asked me how to get this bone from animals, how often do we play this ankle bone game etc.
Next days I observed ESL classes called “Active learning versus passive learning” and “Student-centered language learning activities”. I could take new ideas and methods. The teachers methods were very simple but at the same time very interesting and interactive. I knew some of the games and we use the playing method in our classes in Mongolia but the difference is that we don’t use it regularly. We talked about our challenges in Curriculum Development at my learning center to Carolyn Gedling who is Curriculum Development Director at FIS. She gave us some useful advices.
In the library class, I very much liked the activity to read books to students regularly and having discussion and drama session after reading books. I want to try to implement this activity at my learning center every week.
I really liked the active learning method which was taught to us. Active learning method means that students choose their own method how to learn in classes. The teacher can offer them three kinds of choices and they can choose one at the start of the lesson. Uuganaa and me we were asked many questions about Mongolia and we were happy to share the information with the students in several sessions.
One major difference I saw was that students at FIS were encouraged to think critically and to learn to be creative. They learn new things in many different ways. That’s what I want to implement this in my learning center.
After a week we meet Carolyn again and she gave us some useful materials and good advices on our reflections. I’ve learned from Carolyn’s classes how to keep students talking in English and how to use 5 Why’s methods to improve the students’ critical thinking.
I’m so glad that I had this wonderful opportunity. A BIG THANK YOU to Elaine and to the FIS team to make it possible. I felt very comfortable to work there and I have learned important methods, got new ideas and inspirations from FIS teachers. It gave me encouragement to make some positive changes, to do my best to make a difference. The environment of the school was fantastic and activities were taken just for the students and their improvement. I really hope to see and visit them again.
To our fellow Community Heroes: If you have the opportunity to go to Europe and visit a school there preparation is key and the most important thing for your stay. We are so lucky having had such a good opportunity. However, to make the best out of this opportunity lies in our hands. It’s not about having good language skills but about active communication, right attitude and setting goals, what do you want to learn at FIS leads to successful internship. Let’s be prepared and work hard to improve our skills!
Notes from a Mongolian Teacher’s Diary
By Uuganaa Gantumur – During my stay at FIS I wrote in my diary things I learned there. I would like to share some points with you to show you how helpful and useful our stay was.
- We should take time to teach each other. For example: A Cambodian teacher teaches to Mongolian teachers one of their own methods with working kids at their respective learning center. This would be a good way to learn from each other.
- All sessions should be kept for the next guests visiting from the learning centers.
- Divide into groups to observe classes according to their teaching experiences. For example, some teachers only teach for beginners but others for high school students. Identify the teacher’s level before the training!
- More practical sessions
- We all should share our ideas and materials when we are back to our countries. I started to teach my colleague Buyanaa after I came back from Germany and our training style changed a lot. The diary was very useful to get ideas and remember things, too.
- Some gaps in the plan were great because they gave us time to receive feedback for our classes.
- All the sessions were very constructive and helpful
- Use more technology in the class. For me, it is a really good idea instead of preparing a lot by myself.
- FIS was a very strong and helpful environment to improve our speaking skills.
- Teachers were so friendly and liked to share ideas! Also, Elaine gave a really good introduction to the school and its focus.
- Learned a lot of library ideas such as banned books, book of battle and blind date with books. I thought that a library is only a place to borrow books.
- I got inspired a lot by FIS school’s environment so after my trip I started to decorate my training environment using internal resources.
- Students can do a lot of things by themselves such as researching and being creative.
- All teachers are facilitators and mentors
- A child-friendly atmosphere is very important
- Elaine is a super coordinator!
- We net many people and shared lots of ideas
- We could personally meet students and classes and talked about cultural differences
- Our host families were awesome!
- It was great to meet the authors of books
- There were many extracurricular activities and clubs that FIS offers to students
- Like FIS, we should establish a community service project, a creer day and a fashion show
Being at the FIS was a great experience for me though I have been teaching for 15 years. It was a lifetime chance! Thanks to BOOKBRIDGE, Elaine and this great school!