Monday, February 6, 2012

January ESL class


The week before last, I had my first english class of the year.  The students had been out of class for eleven weeks.  That is a long time in between classes!  Because of meetings in November, we had to have our class very early.  December is a school break all over Kenya and for our TBTI and english students.

I decided that we needed to spend the week reviewing.  My students have never been to formal school.  So, they really do not have study skills and don't know how to study.  I have tried to help them by giving them homework and schedules for what to do each day, but usually, they come back to class without much study time on their own.  So, a review was definitely in order.

We spent the week reviewing vocabulary and sentence grammar.  I did re-teach them about the article as I knew they didn't quite get it the first time.  We also worked more on alphabetical order.  This has been a hard concept for them and I wanted to give them some Turkana to English and English to Turkana dictionaries this week.  So, we spent a couple hours going over and doing exercises on this until I was sure they understood it.  The dictionaries have some mistakes and are based on a mixture of Karamoja and Turkana (same root language but different borrowed words), but I still think they will help them.

We reviewed vocabulary by trying to use as many english words as we could.  I read them a story called 14 Cows For America because it had many words they knew and was about the Maasai.  They know several Maasai men as our churches are associated with churches planted by CMF in Maasai.  Several of them have visited in Maasai-land.  This is a wonderful story about 9/11 and how a small subset of the Maasai tribe gave cows to help comfort America.  We talked about their memories from that day and what the Turkana might do to offer comfort.  It was quite funny to me when one of the men very honestly said they wouldn't do anything.  The Turkana tend to tell people to "get over it" when they are grieving.  Just surviving here is very hard, so people don't really have time to grieve very long for a lost loved one.  This can sometimes be very hard to witness.  They do still grieve of course, but not publicly for long.  I also gave them time to read two easy to read children's storybooks on their own during the week.  For homework, they will read one of them to someone who knows english in their home areas.
reading their storybooks

For sentence grammar, we played some games.  We played a game called Silly Sentences where they had to make sentences that were grammatically correct but maybe not completely sensible.  This game was a bit easier than the second game as the words were puzzle pieces that would not fit together if it would be incorrect.  So, an adjective would fit to a noun but not the other way around.  These pieces also had pictures of the words - so that helped with vocabulary review.

We also tried to play the game "You've been Sentenced."  This one did not work so well.  It was much harder and they did not know many of the words.  So, we ended up stopping that one.  The many words on one card confused them.  So, we decided to stick with the silly sentence game.  Even teachers can mis-guess their students abilities sometimes :).
These cards are too hard!
The silly sentence game actually helped them to better understand articles as well.  At least now they can tell me where the articles are in a sentence.  When I wrote sentences on the board that they had made, I asked them for the parts of the sentence.  I underlined each word part with a different color of chalk as they identified it for me.  This helped them get things straight and they enjoyed sharing the sentences they had made.

That is the class in review.  Sorry it is so long!  We will have our next class the week of February 20th.  We will go back to the movie ESL program I have been using.  I hope to finish that movie completely in March.

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