Teaching in a Nepalese School - Stories of a VIN Volunteer - Blog #2

Teaching in a Nepalese School - Stories of a VIN Volunteer - Blog #2
Former VIN Volunteer, Thomas J. - Wed May 09, 2012 @ 07:10PM
Comments: 5

Thomas J. was a VIN volunteer teaching English to 6th & 7th graders in Jitpur, Nepal, 2011.


These kids are really good and throw me challenges regularly forcing me to mentally, and creatively, dash and gash; discovering new tactics to keep them moving forward. One of the tricks I play with them, when I sense their focus bleeding out, is a count-clap game. I walk to the very middle of the room in between the two rows of desks and ask them, "Are you ready?"  I have done this enough that they know what is about to happen. Without saying a word I place the back of my hands, fisted, at the side of my face and flash numbers to them. Their job is to clap the number I have showing. Sometimes I do just odd numbers, and then I will switch to even numbers and many times I will change it up again and mix odd and even. Incrementally, I have been increasing how high the numbers are that end the sequence. As soon as we end the count clap we jump right back into the lesson at hand with a new-found concentration and energy……….

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To build my Nepali vocabulary I have been throwing a Nepal word into each class. The latest is the Nepali word for “to remember” samjannu (pronounced SOME-ZEN-NOO). (In Nepalese, if the letter “J” is inside the structure of a word it takes on a “z” sound.) I have them chant this word in between the paragraphs of the reading exercises, which we do together and out loud. They need to remember the content of the stories we read as at the end of each one I ask them many questions about the story and they must answer me in past tense, present tense, using pronouns, and the correct verbs.

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One of the nice surprises of this teaching assignment is the dialogue I have with the other teachers at my school. There is an English Literature teacher for the 9th and 10th graders who is Nepalese, and the two of us find time for conversation about her upcoming lessons. She is from a large family of teachers (her brother, father, mother, and her husband) and inevitably before the day begins she will ask me questions concerning poems or short stories, which are part of her lesson plans, and we speak on interpretation of the pieces. She asks great questions and has a high level of curiosity concerning word choice, and sentence structure, and also has an understanding of metaphor and specific phrases having larger meaning than what it is communicated in the literal sense.



Teaching School


The week at the school has been full of challenges but productive. We have moved on to learning how to write in the possessive and what it means to write comparative phrases (big, bigger, biggest, fast, faster, fastest…..etc). The Nepali word I have been using this week is “ramro” (Pronounced as it is spelled) which is Nepali for “good”. Another word we are using is “dayaan” (Pronounced DIE-ANN) which is “listen” as well as “paaunu jawaab” (Pronounced PIE-E-NOO JI-WAB) which is “find answer”. I have also come to devise a system with both of my classes, but especially my 6th grade class, where I have designated two students, a girl and a boy, to be my lieutenants and these lieutenants are in charge of each group of the class and if said groups get out of line, then these two little lieutenants take the fall and will be in trouble. Now, between you and I there is nothing I would do concerning punishment, but they do an awesome job of keeping the kids in line who are in their designated groups, and I continue to encourage them and thank them for helping me keep the class in line.

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There are so many opportunities and times I think of my mother and father and how I watched them in their classes during their careers and see myself emulate them. All of this is hard work but rewarding. Even creating the lesson plans at night and seeking out tricks or methods to keep them locked in is as much of the puzzle as the execution the next day.


The lessons continue with my 6th and 7th graders and this past week we worked on using the phrases “I will” and “I won’t” as well as what it means to tag a negative statement on the back of a question/ statement combination, for instance: You are late for school (the statement), aren’t you? (the question) And then here comes the reply “No, I am not.” There are times I jump off the book and get creative with the lesson and we are now at the point where the kids are taking the chalk and doing some of their lessons on the board. Both classes are lousy at doing their homework but it is hard to lay blame. Resources are scarce and many of my kids are without books and/or writing utensils but they soldier on and as long as they are in their desk each day we will find a way to get as much English into them as possible.

Comments: 5


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