Teaching English to Help Open More Opportunities
A committed student aimed to empower both children and adults to improve their lives within their community through teaching English to communities in Faridabad, India and Dharamsala, Tibet.
In India, the goal was to contribute the children’s education so that they have a greater chance in being accepted to schools and, therefore, have more opportunities in the future. The community in Dharamsala, the goal was to help the Tibetan people become more industrious and self sufficient with greater language skills and greater knowledge of other cultures.
The volunteer was able to provide special classes slum school. The slum school was a more difficult environment to teach in as the teaching environment was up to Canadian standards. It was approximately 45 degrees Celsius during the day and took place outdoors in a shaded temple that had three walls and without a working fan.
Two groups of children, ranging from age two to twelve, all sat in very close proximity on two carpet rugs with no physical barrier in between, with one teacher in charge of each group. It was often noisy, without the traditional chalkboard or white board. The children had to share board books and were not allowed to take notebooks or pencils home because their home situation was so dilapidated that the supplies would be lost if they were to take them home.
It was very clear that this would have been a cultural shock to those not prepared to come into such an environment.
Due to the sub-par conditions the children were facing, the volunteer student provided their own notebooks and a new whiteboard to help facilitate a more efficient learning environment.
In addition to classroom lessons, the volunteer led some physical activities in the morning to improve the children’s attention span, asking them to touch their eyes, nose, shoulders, toes, etc., and asking repeated questions so that they could start to understand sentence structure.
Further, it was discovered that working with a smaller group of children consistently for the remainder of my stay brought better results. The children were very curious and wanted to practice conversation.
In Dharamsala, the volunteer connected with Tibet World and had the opportunity to conversational English and helping the director with management and organization of the office.
For my conversational classes, some of the students were Tibetans, but many were monks from
Thailand. The class that were taught always aimed to have some fun for all. The students were allowed to choose the topic of conversation and discussed amongst each other.
Due to previous experience, the volunteer also incorporate phonic and pronunciation exercises specific to the primary language of each student. For example, the challenge for Thai speakers was to pronounce the end consonant of English words, as well as the “R” and “L” sounds. For Tibetans, proper vowel pronunciation was sometimes difficult for them to do accurately.
In the end, it is clear to say that the volunteer student gain valuable knowledge and the different living conditions that were in other countries. These worldviews broadened their understanding and they hope to use this knowledge in implementing new programs back home.