23 April 2009

Teaching English

22 April 2009

The Togolese Lottery is paying for the CEG Kovié to get school buildings! It’s all very exciting. And, in typical Togolese fashion, even the school director didn’t know anything about it until the Lottery guys showed up in swish suits and fancy cars saying they’ll break ground tomorrow. (That was last Friday).
It’s kind of a relief for me at the same time that it’s a joy – I don’t have to worry about trying to help the director track down the funds for buildings. Huzzah. I can just focus on the couple projects I’ve already gotten started. The 3eme students at the school are going to be taking their BEPC exam to get into high school in less than a month. The director wants me to take them for an extra hour each week to work on their English. I’m afraid it’s too little too late. But I’ve gotten a bit more serious in my time with them – we no longer sing songs and play games. I was able to get my hands on some previous BEPC English exams and I’m teaching them concepts like passive vs. active voice that are treated heavily on the exam.
I’m also encouraging them to ‘check out’ the books that the Scottish Book Trust donated to help them with reading comprehension and vocabulary. I’ve asked them to write mini-book reports as they read. This hasn’t really happened – homework is pretty much ignored here. But I take my time reading over the sentences that a few of them have given me. It’s for their own good that I correct them! I’m not grading them, just trying to give them the knowledge to pass the exam. I bring along my French/English dictionary every week and the students love it. I’ve taught them all how to look up words – my Robert Collins is probably the first dictionary most of them have ever seen.
I don’t love teaching English. It will almost certainly be one of the things I let go next year when I focus a bit more on my big projects: constructing a dressmaking workshop for the apprentices who can’t afford the apprentice fees; running and improving Camp UNITE; developing and fundraising for the girls’ scholarships Karren Waid program; making my peer educator’s acting troupe ready for regional competitions.
I’ve got a lot of cool projects going, but I’m feeling a little trapped by the English teaching commitment. Hopefully with the school getting all the physical trappings, they’ll be more able to attract teachers so they won’t be in such need for teachers next year. I would love to run a little business club at the school, but I’m not sure I’ve got the time or patience to keep on teaching myself how to teach English as a second language. Although lots of Peace Corps volunteer positions are specifically for ESL, my post is not, so I’ve got to get myself onto other things.

No comments: