It's been an incredibly busy week for both Shally and I since it's our first week of teaching of the 2011-12 school year. All the continuing and new students have settled in after our week orientation, so it's down to some serious teaching and learning for the rest of the semester.
Our textbooks finally arrived yesterday. There was a three-day delay because of the flooding of the Siem Reap River over the weekend. Our printing place was submerged in water, so they didn't have any power over the weekend, which put them behind all of their orders. Regardless, they arrived and we were able to hand them out to our students.
Once again, we're using the Side by Side series. The main reason we decided to use this series was because there is much less cultural content than other EFL textbooks. We do include part of this cultural content in our lessons, but we have localized every single lesson so that the BEA kids can talk about themselves and their own cultures. On average, we use the textbook for about three lessons in each course each week, and the other two lessons are supplemented with other teaching materials. In this way, students don't get bored with the same teaching method, and it keeps them motivated and interested in learning.
Shally will have a bit of an "easier" time teaching this year since we have kept all of our lessons from our courses last year. His main job this year will be revising his lessons from the Basic and Pre-Intermediate courses. Our new Intermediate course will take up most of his planning time this year.
When I head back to Japan this weekend, I'll have a suitcase full of all of Shally's lessons plans and supplementary materials from last year. One of BEA's long-term goals is to eventually design a textbook book and teacher's book specifically for Cambodian teachers and students to use. One of my big tasks over the next year is to start going through all of Shally's lesson plans and putting together a first draft of these books. It just seems there is no end to paperwork...
The library program is now up and running. Students from the Pre-Intermediate and Intermediate courses have already started borrowing graded readers from the library. Srey Net, our librarian, was able to process another 30 books yesterday, which now brings our graded reader total to 265 - a humble, but good start to our library collection. In our lessons yesterday, Shally pointed out the "Graded Reader Progress Chart" in the textbooks. BEA students are required to read two graded readers each semester before the "Book Report Workshop" at the end of January. For this workshop, students will participate in discussions about one of their books, give a short presentation and write a book report. Throughout the semester, Shally will be checking these progress charts to make sure students are keeping up with their reading.
I'll write more about Shally's teacher training program in more detail in a later because there's too much to write about for just one single posting. For the first week of classes, we've been able to get in some team teaching with a few feedback sessions. We usually spend more time on teacher training in February when we have a bit more time between the first and second semesters. However, I've been completely impressed with the progress he has made over the past year, especially in his elicitation and monitoring skills. It really seems that he's been teaching much longer than just five years!
As usual, I'll be assisting him with lesson planning once I'm back in Japan. Last year, I planned the majority of his reading and listening lessons, as well as the more challenging speaking lessons. After he had read through the plan, he would skype me to discuss any questions. Finally, after he taught the lesson, we had a short skype feedback session to discuss what worked well and what needed to be improved. For this year, I'll be focusing most of my lesson planning on the Intermediate speaking lessons so that Shally can learn new practice and use activities.
I finished up my last teaching day at BEA yesterday so that I can have a day to finish up last-minute administrative matters before I head back to Japan. We were finally to have our staff dinner at a suki soup restaurant. This is a type of dish where you can order different types of meats and vegetables, and then they are boiled in a big pot at your table. It was a great way to end the day, and to give a big thanks to the staff for al their hard work.
Back to paperwork...
The Bayon English Academy (BEA) is an NGO school that provides underprivileged youth with quality English language education in a safe, clean environment in Siem Reap, Cambodia.