HRI 2018: Day 7
Contributor: Naeiri Hakopian
If I could sum up this summer camp in one word it would be unprepared. Weeks before arriving in Shvanidzor, I met with Siranoush, with whom I would be teaching the English and Crafts class. We prepared detailed lesson plans for each age group, outlining all our goals and what we wanted to achieve with each class. We knew most of the villagers had very little English speaking skills, if any, and were prepared to teach them the basics of the language. For example, for the older kids, we planned to teach them sentence structure and how to introduce themselves, so by the end of the camp, they could write a short introductory paragraph about themselves. Two days into the camp, it was clear our lessons were not going to go as planned. Their English knowledge was less than we had anticipated, our planned activities were a bore, and we were having much more fun getting to know all our students, then we were when teaching them. For the younger kids, activities we thought would be uninteresting for them turned out to be the highlights of every class. We were singing “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,” fifteen times a day; each day the young kids would come back more excited than the day before to show us which parts of the song they remembered. They would show their other teachers what they had learned in class that day. We were slowly making progress with the younger students, but with the older students we were still struggling to help them understand English phrases and sentence structure. With our class times running too short, we offered all our students the option of joining us in the afternoon (after classes were over, and when they were supposed to be chilling at home) to come to school if they wanted to continue studying. With me, they would be practicing English again, and with Siranoush, they would have an introduction to the Chinese language, something they all knew Siranoush is studying in University and were all interested in learning. The first afternoon progressed as class usually would, I asked each student what they wanted to pursue in their future, and helped them put together short descriptions of their aspirations. However, they were still struggling with putting together basic sentences. During Siranoush’s class, the student’s learned a little about the history of the Chinese language and how the different symbols in their language are punctuated to form a specific sound. Siranoush’s vibrant personality, coupled with her love for the Chinese language, made the students much more responsive and receptive during class. I realized I had to take a different approach, and decided I would teach Music fundamentals in the afternoon, but completely in English. The students would learn the basics of music theory while being exposed to English. Through song and note dictation, the older students were able to catch on to English much easier. I would ask questions in English, and a student would be able to translate it, come up to the board, and complete simple exercises, and also learn to interact with me in English when they needed help. A few already had a background in music, and almost all of them knew how to sing the notes, and this made them more motivated to join in during class and share their knowledge. In the middle of one of the lessons, one student said in Armenian, “You know, learning is a good thing.” A short and sweet comment, but it was everything. I was glad to have provided a lesson plan which captured their interest and held their attention for even a short time. So yes, I was very unprepared for the way camp would progress, and for how the students would react to our lessons, but I was also unprepared for how eager these students are to learn and how quickly they respond to something which interests them, and of course, for how much more they taught me then I taught them.
12/20/2020 08:31:51 pm
It is a mission fulfilled when we teach a kid. The values and the principles that they learn in this life will be a great treasure that they will keep. It will open their minds to new opportunities. A promise that we will see in the future. We just need to wait for that moment to happen. I know that we can all achieve great things if we are doing our best to have a great life. It will be worth the fight.
Leave a Reply.