The children of grade 8 were a little restless when we began, and I was a little nervous and hoping for them to be so enthralled in the lesson that they calmed down. I was, however, skeptical of the latter as I know full well that children have more energy than adults and are also less receptive to 100% immersion in a language if it is not something that they are used to. The lesson was OK, neither good nor bad. It did not have the same magic that the earlier demonstration to the adult learners had had. The children were noisy throughout and found understanding me a challenge. Further, they were very distracted by the way I look as I am still something of an oddity in this remote area. I did successfully introduce a gesture for ’s’ which is something that all Myanmar learners struggle with. Now, each time they say a plural noun, they touch their finger to their nose. This physical activity should create new associations in their brain with the ’s’ sound and encourage them to make it whenever necessary.
I have one advantage over the local teacher, that is to say I have no bias towards the ‘good’ or ‘bad’ children; I don’t know them well enough to judge and I learned in Greece that accepting another teacher’s opinion of a child is a dangerous thing upon which to make judgements. My students generally react very differently to me than they do of other members of staff. Generally I am younger, more foreign and considerably more into teaching and learning theory than my colleagues and I believe that this mix changes the way in which I interact with pupils.
I saw no stupid children in the hour that I taught. I saw excited children, or those who were frustrated and confused, but I saw no-one who was not engaged at some point over the hour and I saw no-one who was making no effort to be a part of the new method of teaching. They were baby steps, but steps towards progress never-the-less.
NEH Coordinator and Teacher Trainer