In addition to learning how to teach speaking lessons, the BEA trainees also learned how to teach listening. This is particularly challenging in most Cambodian settings since teachers usually don't have access to audio equipment. Most schools are lucky to have a whiteboard and a few markers. Before the trainees learned how to adapt listening to different types of learning environments, they had to illustrate the "shape" of a listening lesson and then explain the reasoning for this lesson shape. As you can see, one trainee drew a diagram of Angkor Wat to represent listening lesson structure!
The Bayon English Academy (BEA) is an accredited NGO school that provides English language education, leadership, and job skills programs to underprivileged youth from well-trained teachers in a safe, clean and professional environment in Siem Reap, Cambodia.
It's only Tuesday, but it feels liked I've done a week's worth of work in the past two days. Unfortunately, I couldn't go into BEA this afternoon because we have to prepare for student conferences and pre-registration this Thursday and Friday.
Review Lessons and Teaching Observation:
Since we finished our final test last week, we're having a variety of review lessons this week. For yesterday's day lesson, I was able to download an EFL reading lesson on the Pyramids of Egypt. However, those lesson always have to be rewritten for the Cambodian classroom, especially the teaching notes because they are not nearly detailed enough for less experienced teachers. For this lesson, I wanted show Shally how to teach the same material to different levels with a special emphasis on vocabulary teaching.
The students were familiar with the pyramids since most of them vaguely remembered the topic from high school. However, as predicted, the vocabulary was the foremost interest to the students. Although it's not necessary to understand every single word when reading, Cambodian students insist on knowing every word. Shally has implemented a very effective teaching strategy: he allows the class to ask for only vocabulary explanation for three unknown words (this is in addition to the ones already pre-taught before the reading activity).
As usual, I model the the lesson in the Basic A course, and then Shally teaches the Basic B course on his own. I'm available during the lesson just in case he needs support for new teaching techniques. In the pre-intermediate course, I model only certain parts of the lesson that Shally would like to observe before he does it on his own.
One of the biggest improvements I've noticed in Shally's teaching is his elicitation and vocabulary teaching techniques. When Shally first participated in one of my teacher training program about three years ago, one of his difficulties was eliciting background knowledge from the students. I was very impressed at the ease in which he does it now.
During the observation of the Basic B course, I even learned a new vocabulary memory technique from him. For example, after he has written down the vocabulary list, he will erase two to three words. Students then have to shout our the missing words from the list. Despite my many years of teaching, I'm happy to still be learning myself!
I'm still marking the final tests - a little over half way done now. Overall, I'm very impressed in the progress most of the students have made in paragraph writing. Students have a much better grasp of organizing their ideas and as a result are writing more coherently. In the next few weeks, I'll upload some of the examples onto the website.
Interestingly, I've noticed a consist error among most of the students. When students had to respond to a short-answer question, many answers "He had a cold because he rode his bicycle under the rain." I asked Shally about this and he explained that students are directly translating from Khmer.
When I head back to Japan at the end of September, I'll have a suitcase full of journals and tests to bring with me. I hope to have a few research papers written (and published) by the end of the year on Cambodian English.
Although it seems that I'm quite busy, Shally has been even busier than me. BEA has applied for accreditation from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MOEYS) so that we can issue our own certificates, which would be equivalent to certificated earned at high school. Shally has had to make several trips to the Ministry, and has had to prepare hundreds of pages of documents in the past two weeks.
Well, that's been the start of the week at BEA...
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.
Nicole is BEA's director.