Monday December 14: We raided the kitchen and took several forks, a knife, a variety of spoons, some crockery and a cooking pot in to school. In each class the kit was used to demonstrate prepositions in action. We started with the teachers who were impressed with the quality of our pot and took part in the exercises with gusto. By the end of the day, even the youngest students can put the pot between two forks and the bowls have been over, above and on our heads several times.
Tuesday December 15: A day of rain of Biblical proportions. Only two teachers turned up to class, but they are now able to hold their own in a conversation about the weather. We learn that the Swahili translation of “It’s raining cats and dogs”, is “It’s raining big and little elephants”. We introduced the phrase “Rain stops play” which leads us into a cricket minefield. TEFL teaching should come with a warning about not discussing cricket. Attempts to discuss cricket without the aid of photos is doomed to disaster. We promise to bring in photos of cricket tomorrow.
In spite of the rain, the children struggle in to school, showing more determination than the teachers. Is is curiosity about what the bizarre foreigners will think to do with bowls or lack of anything better to do? As a reward for making it to school there is an extra-long episode of The Jungle Book. The language and visual humour works particularly well and the kids are nearly able to sing along to “The Bear Necessities”.
Wednesday December 16: Nearly all the teachers make it to class today. We run through the weather terms again and produce the photos of cricket to support “Rain stops play”. But it backfires on us. We had imagined that this would be sufficient, but the entire class wants to understand all the rules. The explanations lead to more puzzlement and requests to see live action video.
While Gasica takes the intermediate students. We work on shapes and colours with the beginners. It is a successful lesson which involves us getting into a lot of sticky situations with triangles, red dots and pink hearts. It seems that glue doesn’t perform in the same way in Zanzibar as it does in Lancing. Or maybe the children are picking at the corners of their shapes to get us running round with more glue as today’s entertainment?
Thursday December 17: Gasica is joining us later today as he’s arranged to bring a few busloads of students from ZL4LF for a football match with our students. So today classes are all in English. We study maps with the teachers using free maps from one of the local shops. Some are rather puzzled by the points of the compass, but by the end of the class they can all give directions to the fictitious lost tourist reasonably well. We all agree that if anyone is lost in the maze-like lanes of Stone Town, it’s best not to give directions but to escort them back to the main street.
As the last class with all the teachers we ask them to answer three questions about the lessons:
- What have you found most helpful?
- What have you found least useful?
- What would you like more of?
There’s general agreement that they’d like more grammar and vocabulary. Of particular interest to us is the fact that they have particularly enjoyed the experience of working together and a reasonable number stated that they had learnt a lot from the films. As Gasica wasn’t with us to help with translation, they universally misunderstood the second question and said that they find pronunciation the most difficult.
Raya and Khadija told us a few weeks ago that they make the best pilau in the class. As a thank you for the English lessons, they have made us a chicken pilau which has been kept hot in a thermos. They make the tomato and onion salad in the classroom and there’s much tasting until they are agreed on how much lime to add to the salad. They are very disappointed that Gasica hasn’t arrived in time for them to watch him enjoy the pilau, but leave the hotpot with us. The grand-daughter of one of the teachers is entrusted with returning all the equipment at the end of the day.
The students are keen to sign up for classes in 2016. They will be given lunch so that it’s feasible for them to come to our lessons straight after school at 1pm and still get home in time to do the evening chores. As the water isn’t safe to drink all children spend a lot of time carrying water from taps either at the school or from wells to their homes.
An incredible number of students from Gasica’s school arrive in two busloads to play football and socialize. They attend his school before or after regular school to learn English, Science and participate in various clubs such as emailing pen pals, art/crafts. The idea is to promote hard work exposing the students from our school to the dedication of the ZL4LF students. The football match draws a big crowd and the rest watch “Frozen” which has been voted the most popular. The mixing is judged to be successful and we look forward to working with a motivated intermediate group in the New Year.