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Busy days filled with teaching, exploring and smiling faces!

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Hello all, since my last email I have been busy with classes, exploring and more travels. The next few days after arriving home from Trincomalai were busy working days. I am using materials that I was given from CSLI to teach my early morning classes, those and my own creations when I want to expand on an idea. I try to involve them at each activity, either by speaking, working together, worksheets or boardwork. The class is comfortable with me and are not afraid to give answers; they have the ability to laugh at themselves or with others in such a fun way. Trying to get them to use the articles like a, the, or prepositions in their phrases, has been a standing joke. They now know by the different expressions on my face what they need to do when we are orally or visually correcting work. I make the pucking sound when they forget punctuation marks, da dut da du sounds when I want them to finish the sentence, etc. It is definitely worth a laugh to have them imitate me when correcting each other! That class usually varies between 18 and 22 staff workers. I’d say the average age is 27 or so. There are at least that many preschool teachers that I also work with in my other classes. Mostly I am trying to model how to teach young children. I have been singing songs (hilarious because as you all know my singing leaves lots to be desired!) doing lots of action and finger plays, teaching games they can play with 3 and 4 year olds, etc. They have to teach english but their knowledge of the language is extremely weak in many cases so it works better when I have a translator. I was asked to do a 2 day workshop on Sunday and Monday with all the teachers. I want to make it a “Make and take, kind of workshop” plus I want to go over what things I feel should be in a preschool curriculum. I was asked to write a curriculum for the schools and a timeline for what should be done with 3 year olds and what should be done with the 4 year olds. They call them upper and lower kindergarten classes. Using my bkgrd. and the internet I have been working on that and now want to explain it to them so I have been putting together examples of activities, songs, ect. I spent the time between my classes today at a preschool to see what they are doing. This was Rose’s english preschool in Kalmunai which I found out is competitive with the other preschools. (There are ones run by the nuns & the public ones) The parents (not unlike parents in Canada) want their children to succeed and be professionals so think that they should be printing and reading by the end of upper preschool. This preschool has over 100 little guys, all smiling faces wearing their little uniforms. They are like little people anywhere, some pushing, some crying, some so eager to get your attention, some focused and some in la la land! When I arrived it was assembly so they were all lined up and quietly listening to their teachers. I started doing the hokey pokey and action songs so the disciplined children that started the assembly were laughing, falling over and acting just like I would expect excited 3 & 4 year olds to act. The other 13 preschools in the villages around Kalmunai are quite different. The teachers are members of the village and the areas have not got the facilities or supplies that the Kalmunai school has. You cannot begin to compare the differences between a Canadian preschool and the ones here. The only similarity is the children. I wish I could bring over the things that our schools just throw away and waste in a day!

This Saturday is another women’s group and sports meet of girls (similar to the one I first attended at the Lawrence community center) Anthony informed me that I was going to chair the event! He showed me the agenda (invitation) that already had my name as chairperson. I demanded a democracy only to be laughed at and then at a meeting of staff and teachers he asked who thought I should chair the event and of course they all put up their hands! Guess I lost that one……they will all have a good laugh as I stumble to try to pronounce the 10 syllable names everyone here has!

My afternoons are spent working with the two different groups that are doing the online computer program. I originally was going to facilitate the program but instead am teaching and guiding the students through it. One group just finished the first weeks lessons and activities and the other group is still working on it. There are 10 weeks of lessons so obviously we will not complete the program as was originally hoped for. My goal is to have them understand what we have done and give them some time to practise. I also hope that when I leave they can understand the setup of the program enough to try to complete it on their own. The ones taking the program are employed by Rose so are coming for their 1 1/2 hours daily and leaving their workplace office at that time. They are also coming into work early so they can attend my 7 in the morning classes. That’s called dedication to learn English and improve themselves!

Last Saturday after a day of teaching that began at 7 and continued with no breaks for me until 3 in the afternoon I ran home to pack to leave for the south. Don’t get me wrong, I could leave or take breaks but the 1/2 hour between classes doesn’t give me enough time to run home plus I want to organize myself for my next class. I do not like to have the guys wait for me when their time is also important so i just keep going like the energizer bunny! Good thing I brought along my pep pills and vitamins! Anyway our driver and Rajeeshan, Amanda and I left for a driving trip to Galle. That was a very fun time so my next email will chat about that and I will also post some pictures showing you some of the great sites! I need a break and am hungry so bye for now and hope you all had a good Easter!

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