“A,B,C…1,2,3…Hello, How are you? I’m fine.” These are all the things that you hear 30-50 students chanting when you walk into our English class. Students who, before these lessons, have never spoken a word of English.
Last year when we taught WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene), the teachers constantly asked us to help with their English classes. It has been a new mandate that all schools teach English as one of the core subjects, however most of the teachers aren’t able to speak English themselves! So as we launched our Teacher Training Program this year, we knew exactly where to start.
The teachers have been very receptive to our support. We integrate tactile learning into the lessons providing a fun and interactive environment for the children. Even if it is a weekend, you can still see the students running in their uniforms to school when they hear that we are there to teach. They are so eager to learn!
We have also started using our WASH lessons as extra support to train in the new teaching methodology. We break our lessons into 5 parts:
1. Introduction: Warm up, review, and introduce the lesson
2. Motor Memory for Tactile Learners: Use movement to introduce key words and material and engage learners
3. Umbrella Questions: Solidify what children have learned and help them reach their own conclusions
4. Stories/Songs: Bring the lesson to life, stimulate the imagination, and keep children’s attention
5. Activities: Learn through doing
We’ve had education experts from the US Embassy praise us on this methodology, as it’s engaging for students and completely different from the way a typical government teacher teaches a lesson. Typical lessons are lecture-style with very limited student participation, so students rarely have fun while learning. Our lessons show teachers how effective a fun lesson can be!
Leading the students in a warm up
Students eager to learn!
Teaching the handwashing song while incorporating sign language
Listening to a story about the importance of washing hands
Students participating in umbrella questions
Megan Williams got a BA in community health in Washington state, worked as a nutrition teacher in Seattle, then spent the following year travelling Asia with her husband. Together they scoured for jobs, adventures and people that they lovee. They passed through Luang Prabang, Laos, and they fell in love. Six months later they returned to live and Megan started as a volunteer, then a fellow, then worked her way up to Programs Manager of the PoP Laos team.