The project “Teaching English in Laos” aims to sustainably foster English education in Laos. Therefore, teaching the Lao pupils is only one part of the job, while working with the teachers is another significant task to trigger a lasting effect. During our preparation for our time in Laos, we considered different topics for workshops in order to familiarise the teachers with methods and techniques of foreign language teaching that are new to them. Still in Karlsruhe, we decided to hold workshops according to the Learning Through the Arts approach (LTTA), this time with picture books and hand puppets, as Team I had already introduced Action Songs (“Singlish”) and Modern Western Square Dance. These techniques provide a great chance to increase the pupils’ interest and can help to introduce everyday situations and vocabulary in the foreign language.
After observing English lessons in Sikeud and Phang Heng we realized, however, that covering more basic didactic and methodological topics would be more beneficial for the Lao English teachers at this point.
In the Lao classroom, pupils simply repeat what the teacher says, who has to work with an English course book that starts with the letter “A” and ends with the letter “Z”. The teachers then copy from the book, and so the lessons mainly consist of endless repetitions of words and phrases out of context. Therefore we decided to make “Games for the classroom” the topic of our first workshop. The topic would enable the teachers to bring a greater variety of teaching techniques into the classrooms and therefore initiate more motivating and authentic learning processes.
While preparing the workshop material on-site, we looked through piles of books and booklets in the Lending Library and consulted certified websites to find good games that would fit the Lao schools. As resources – especially material and preparation time – are rather limited in Laos, finding games that don’t need a great deal of these was our main concern.
On 17 March, about 20 teachers from Ban Sikeud and Phang Heng found their way to Sikeud primary school, where the workshop took place. Our main focus was on games for practising and revising vocabulary, since this appeared to be a great issue in class. To make sure that the rules of the games were understood and the teachers know what is important to point out beforehand, we played every single one of the 20 games together with the teachers. Among these were games such as “Catch the fly“, “Whispering chain“ and “Walking gallery“. The workshop was a great success: we were able to show them new and diverse teaching techniques and everyone had a great time.
Text by: J.Reissig, I. Stryj, J. Brecht
Photos by: I. Stryj