Tonloab: Conversation Class, Certificates and Student Assessment

Football: Finally! We did it! 7-6 in the Penalty Shootout
Football: Finally! We did it! 7-6 in the Penalty Shootout

Thanks to the distribution of many course flyers before the summer holidays, our learning center in Tonloab, Cambodia was able to open two new conversation classes. Roman, Swiss fellow at the learning center, describes his teacher experience.

I teach every morning between 9 and 11 am. At first, the students were quite shy to speak English with me. I started with the basics. What’s your name? Where are you from? How old are you? What do you like? But this changed very quickly. I tried to vary the exercises as much as possible. Listening to a conversation, describing pictures, acting situations of daily life are all part of this conversation class. The students particularly like some small competitions, like listing all the countries they know. We then had a discussion about where they would like to travel to, but also how and why. This will lead to even more subjects we will talk about and which are really useful for learning English.

Speaking is the key
Again, speaking, speaking, speaking is key, even if you make mistakes. But I am sure that their progress will be even bigger in the next weeks to come. Now the students are able to describe a picture, ask and answer simple questions. Their progress is really amazing and I am really proud of them, because studying another language (different grammar and pronunciation) is difficult. Another aspect is varying the vocabulary. There are a lot different ways to say hello, for instance.

By the way, I also made some progress in Khmer. I learned asking simple questions and counting to ten. Don’t underestimate the importance of trying to speak the local language to integrate in another culture. The conversation class will go on for two month and I am convinced that their progress will be even bigger in the next weeks to come.

Improving class management
During the last two weeks, Vannak, the teachers and I also discussed how to improve class management by handing out a survey to the teachers where they mentioned the challenges and possible solutions to improve the students’ attention. I suggested creating and handing new rules in the classrooms, which I will initiate very soon. Moreover, we also discussed about how to improve the students’ assessment and the form is almost ready to be used. It entails student’s behaviour, progress, results and will serve as information for their parents.
A workshop on lesson plans was also organized and, according to the participants, it was a great success. One day was dedicated to a theoretical part and the other day to practice. The teachers then received a certificate which I prepared for them.

In the afternoon, I help out the teachers whenever possible. Creating conversation exercises, working in pairs, doing some simple acting but also listening to the correct pronunciation are all methodologies I am trying to show to the teachers.
My plan for the next week is to use the material left by the previous fellows and to put in place a reward mechanism for the very active and good students.

Saturday activities
Let’s not forget our activities Saturday activities! The monthly football event was particularly intense this time and not only because of the very hot weather. After 2×30 minutes, the score between Vannak’s team and mine was 1-1. It ended up in a penalty shootout where my team won! This Saturday, the kids will enjoy the “Madagascar” movie, with English subtitles.

As you see, there are a lot of initiatives and projects that have already been launched and I am very happy to contribute to it. It is an honour to work with such passionate people and I am sure there will be even more progress in the months to come.

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