We continued with our second writing task in yesterday's classes. In the Basic (A) class, I used a kinesthetic activity to teach conjunctions (e.g but, and, so). Students were given 15 cards and arrange them into sentences with the correct conjunction. They had no trouble using the word "but" to connect sentences, but they did have a little difficulty with "so". In the feedback session after the activity, Shally gave an explanation of the use of "so" in Khmer, but the students will definitely need more activities with conjunctions in the future.
One noticeable observation is that Cambodian students do quite well at identifying grammar elements in isolated sentences, such as in the card game. However, when students have to identify sentences in a paragraph or make their own sentences, it is still quite a challenge for them. Perhaps in next year's workshop, I will have students identify these elements in a paragraph first and then in individual sentences.
In the Basic (B) course, we didn't have time for the conjunctions card game. Shally and I spent most of the lesson checking outlines. Compared to the first class, this class has had much more trouble with paragraph coherence. While I checked the outlines, the main problem was that students didn't connect some of their supporting sentences to the controlling idea in their topic sentences. Hopefully, the individual feedback with each student will help them with their first drafts. I felt a bit disappointed after this lesson because I thought the students would be able to write their topic sentences this time with less instruction from me. However, this was a mistake on my part, but a very good learning experience. In future workshops, we will definitely have to spend much more time on the parts of a paragraph and more practice activities before they start their own paragraphs. Rather than spending one week on a writing task, I will probably spend two weeks on one writing task. Both Shally and the students have told me this approach to writing is very new to them, and that they are not taught how to write in English in public school.
In the Pre-intermediate course, our lesson focused on formal expressions for writing a cover letter. In order to learn these expressions, we completed a running dictation activity. Students had a lot of fun with this activity, and I'm amazed at the energy they had for a "grammar" activity. During the feedback session, the students, as usual, had an endless list of questions for me. I always feel challenged in the Cambodian classroom because I can never predict what type of questions I will be asked. I definitely spend more time preparing grammar explanations in Cambodia. Regardless, we focused mostly on the differences between formal and informal expressions for writing, such as the differences between "I look forward to ..." and "I'm looking forward to ..."
On a lighter note, the other day Shally told me that the Pre-intermediate class had made up a list of eight rules for their classroom at the beginning of the semester. He told me that I had to ask the students if I wanted to find out. Well, I asked them yesterday, and they proudly revealed their class list of rules. Here they are in random order...
1. No eating.
2. No picking your nose.
3. No chewing on your pens.
4. Turn off your cell phones.
5. Don't be quiet.
6. Arrive on time.
7. No goofing around.
8. No farting.
Back to the books,
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.