Saturday, November 20, 2010

The English Lesson

English class at the drum and dance school today.  The kids great me with a wave of high-five's and hugs at knee height.  I walk calmly over to the building where they have class, and they all rush back in through the narrow door for their lesson.  Well this is encouraging; they're enthusiastic ! Girls sit in front with a few boys on the right, the rest of the boys especially the older ones, occupy the peanut gallery in the back.  They've all got on their neon orange shirts and black shorts with neon stripe - the uniform for the school.  We review the "My name is____" and "I'm _____ years old" and move on to colors.  The kids don't take notes so I'm not sure how much of this will be retained, but, practice is better than nothing.  And their attention tells me at least that they're enjoying it! We play a lot of repeat-after-me games for lack of anything else to do ( I have no worksheets and the blackboard is a small movable one, crumpled and broken in the middle, so I write around the broken abyss ).  A few boys are being rowdy, not really bothering me, but one of the other boys walks to the far end of the room and returns with the wood block in his hand, a signal to shut up.  He passes it to me, but I lay it on the desk and continue.  I'm not going to hit the kids. I know this is expected in African classrooms, but I dont have the heart for that - I dont need that bad karma, no thank you.
I get the brilliant idea to work on "please and thank you." So we cross over that bridge, and before long I have the whole class in polite appreciation: "Please" "Thank you" "Please" Thank you." The classroom echos in courtesy as the kids repeat their new phrases over and over. Love it. Now tell it to your mothers ! I pat myself on the back for this fait accompli.

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