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Teaching in the Developing World 
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MES-Member

Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2009 3:13 am
Posts: 5
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Post Teaching in the Developing World
Hi everybody,

I'm new to the group, but I've been listening to the podcast for a while. Thought maybe you all might be able to provide some insight on this...

I've recently accepted a volunteer position in Lesotho - tutoring and literacy development. While it's not specifically TESL, most everybody speaks Sesotho at home, and then all schooling is taught in English. So it's like English immersion almost. Most of the kids - and some of the teachers even - don't speak English very well.

Has anyone ever experienced a situation like this? Also, since Lesotho is among the least developed countries in the world, teaching resources are very scarce, and a hundred kids can be packed into a cold classroom with chairs and no desks. They often have to share books and writing utensils are luxuries... So, please consider that stuff when providing your feedback.

Thanks very much!
ty


Thu Jan 15, 2009 4:31 am
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MES-Member

Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2009 3:13 am
Posts: 5
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
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Really? Nothing?


Fri Jan 23, 2009 2:00 am
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MES-Fanatic!

Joined: Sun Dec 30, 2007 4:34 pm
Posts: 67
Location: Japan
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Hi, I only have a second to write, but can you tell us more about your situation? what are you teaching specifically, etc. you mentioned that the school is low on resources, so I think you can find a ton of materials to use on MES English, including writing materials, etc. Also, you are welcome to use any of the materials on my site. Best of luck!

here is my site: http://www.dreamenglish.com

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Fri Jan 23, 2009 9:29 am
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MES-Member

Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2009 3:13 am
Posts: 5
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Post more specific
Hi Matt,

Sorry, I can't be too specific just yet as I'm not entirely sure what exactly I will be assigned. Basically, it's your typical curriculum, and it's taught in English, and all the testing is in English. But English is everyone's second language and a lot of the teachers don't have a very good command either. And then when they have their standardized national exams, it's in English, and if they haven't learned it properly or well enough, they do poorly. Even if they really do know the stuff, if they can't get it down on paper, with proper grammar and spelling, they fail. And since school funding - I believe - is dependent on the average grades of the students on the national exams, failure is seriously detrimental to these kids' future.

I'll be doing lots of tutoring and exam prep and maybe helping out in the classroom.

Does that help?

Thanks for the link.

ty


Sat Jan 24, 2009 6:51 am
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If you're from a developed country, and find yourself teaching in a developing one, my advice is to leave all your pre-conceptions behind, and take the situation as you find it. Discover what's happening and how people are, and adapt to that. Sure, you can offer insights and information from your perspective, but don't assume that people will want to adopt them, or even really have much idea of what you're talking about. If you were back home and somebody from a far-away country was telling you about how things are done there, would you really take much notice?

Experiencing a different culture is a wonderful thing, but remember that you're the outsider. It's not your place to remodel things based on your "superior" Western perspective.

Incidentally, I'm not lecturing you personally, here, kitchentyler. I'm just expressing my frustration at the way I've seen a minority of ESL teachers behaving.

On a practical note, I second the above - MES is a great place to find resources. Also useful: http://www.toolsforeducators.com, where you can make worksheets and activities based on what the students already know, plus relevant new language.

Above all, though, teaching in what you might call "difficult circumstances" can often be about using your imagination, creativity and a piece of chalk. The ability to conjure up great lessons out of thin air won't necessarily come straight away, but with a little patience and experience, it probably will. You'll find out what works, what doesn't, and adapt your strategies accordingly.


Sat Jan 24, 2009 6:56 am
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Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2009 3:13 am
Posts: 5
Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Post thank you
Excellent advice, Alision. Thank you.

I was hoping some forum members might have personal experiences they'd like to share and tips based on those experiences, but I guess not. Also, I have no preconceptions...I just wanted to be prepared. But I suppose there's some element of adventure in not knowing what exactly I'm getting myself into here.

Anyone else?


Sat Jan 24, 2009 7:28 am
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MES-Zealot!

Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2008 2:27 pm
Posts: 191
Location: South Korea
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I worked in Morocco for a while some years ago. I always thought of it as the 2 1/2 world, but I think my situation was in some ways similar to yours and in other ways different.

The difference is that French is the secondary(although in the ciies primary lang.) for many. I had no teacher to help me and I doubt he/she would have spoken English very well. Also the higher exams etc. there are in French. I worked in a youth center so the funding on the following year was not decided on their English acquistion or test scores, but membership fees.

Where are circumstances are similar is the lack of funding. I pretty much got neal/zero. There was a white board in the class, but no markers. We had chairs for all the students but not enough desks. Oh yeah and no heat, aircon or fans. But most days/weeks we had electricty. Big smile.

We also didn't have any books or curriculm. Oh how I wish Mes was around in those days. Where were you Mark. How dare you keep you knowledge/skills from a world that needed you. :D I was a new teacher and this site would have been a god send. Of course now I am an older/more experienced teacher and it is A GOD SEND!!!!! Go Mark, Go Mark, Go Mark!!!!!

ANyway, they didn't provide me with any materials so I had to buy, beg, and borrow all I could.

I didn't really have much of my own money for lots of photo copies, so, although it was more of an initial investment on my part, I laminated almost every thing, even hand outs to the kids.

I made it a requiremnt to attend class that they needed a dry erase marker. For the students that I knew couldn't afford it, I gave away markers as prizes for various things in class. The kids that could afford them got different stuff. (Nothing expensive and all school related.)

I also did this usually only during the first week or so. We had some special event week to get to know each other, etc. In adition, this way they didn't expect prizes all the time. I just couldn't afford it in those days.

If you photocopy make sure to doubleside. also make sure the kids leave there supplies in the school so they don't loose them, unless they need them for homework.

The best thing that we did was build a library. Actually the room was there we just made it a library.

kitchentyler, it's amazing how many people out there are willing to help. I contacted a lot of schools, churches, and other groups in the USA, and got some of them to donate and send books to us. It was great.

Sorry I no longer have any of the addresses/contacts. Shame on me :cry:

In addition maybe some family members could send stuff. I know in the US they used to have discounts on shipping educational material, especailly printed stuff.

You could also try some larger, schools, institutions, or universities in Lesotho, there must be some that can help, even if it's just a bunch of old pencials.

Another suggestion, is to try and find some of the American Peace Corps volunteers there. They won't have much in the way of materail aid, but they will be awesome at their resourcefulness. They also might be a nice shoulder to cry/laugh on during your adventure.

The final thing I suggest is to not go over thinking you will change the world. From my experience if you come away from your time there having affected just one or two students in a positive way you have accomplished a lot.

Keep us informed about your experiences there, teaching and otherwise. I am sure that I am not the only one who would like to hear about them.

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Thu Jan 29, 2009 2:16 pm
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Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2009 3:13 am
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Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Post thanks!
Thank you very much for this thoughtful response. Lots of good ideas and info to take with me on this crazy adventure.

ty


Tue Feb 03, 2009 1:07 am
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MES-Zealot!

Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2008 2:27 pm
Posts: 191
Location: South Korea
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kitchentyler

At worst it is an experience and an adventure, at best it is an experience and adventure. Learn from it, grow from it, and do your best to enjoy it.

I think it is awesome what you are doing!
:D

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Fri Feb 06, 2009 9:31 am
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