I teach Ms Souphaphone Vongphachan, the director of Sikeud Primary School, together with “Linda” aka Ms Bouangeun Hanthavong, Madame Engel’s assistant. Our English class takes place four times a week. Both are wonderful and highly motivated students with whom I enjoy working with a lot.
In the following essay, Ms Souphaphone Vongphachan, the director of Sikeud Primary School, introduces herself and tells her learning biography and personal story about what made her want to learn English. The text is written by herself, but we reread it in class and, in the meantime, corrected small parts together.
my name is Souphaphone Vongphachan. I live in Nakounoi village, Naxaythong district, Vientiane. I live with my mother.
I am a head teacher. I work at Sikeud Primary School. I learn English 4 hours a week. I want to learn English because English is the international language to communication in the world. So I want to communication with anyone people outside the country. I must speak English very well. If I cannot speak English I don’t know what they say, what they do, what they need and they don’t know me say too. I think if I meet and talk with anyone I will have new idea for my work.
One day in the 10 years I went my farm with my sister I saw foreigner group running past my farm into forests. But an old man he run late because his leg injury he can’t go to with friend he doesn’t know street goes to friend and goes back he doesn’t have map, mobiphone. He walked slowly went to me.
Man: Do you can speak English?
I: Do you speak Lao?
After that he say help me, help me, help me. I don’t know what he say but I say ok. He very happy. Then I sent him back to his start.
Then I like to learn English. Sometimes I learn myself dicsnally book, internet. But I learn with the internet I cannot read. I like to learn English but is difficult for me because I have a little basics.
In the following two paragraphs, “our Linda” (Ms Bouangeun Hanthavong) introduces herself to you and explains the reasons why she wants to learn English. Orally Linda can express herself very well. To write English, on the other hand, is still difficult for her, which is why we wrote this introduction together:
Hello, I am Bouangeun Hanthavong. Everyone calls me Linda because it’s easier. I am 42 years old. I live in Sikeud village, Naxaythong district, with my family. I am married and I have one son. I work for the foundation Angels for Children. I am Madame Engel’s assistance. For example, I work as an accountant. This is why I have to learn English because every month I have to answer e-mails or phone calls from Germany. And many people from Germany come to Laos and I have to understand everyone and be able to speak with them because it is my job to help them if they have a problem or need something. When Madame Engel is not at school, sometimes we have some guests visit our school and I have to show them around.
2005, 11 years ago, I did not know any English. I came to Sikeud Primary School and started my work with Madame Engel. It was very difficult to communicate. After one year, I started to learn English in Vientiane with a French teacher for nine months. After that, one English teacher from Naxaythong High School came to teach me and the other teachers of our school for two years. After that, I started to study English by myself with a dictionary. After that, students from Germany came to our school to teach English. Last year, the first group of Karlsruhe came and I started to have lessons to learn English with one teacher and Souphaphone, our director, four hours a week. I can speak but the writing is very difficult for me because I never learned English grammar at school.
Text by S. Vongphachan, B. Hanthavong and K. Petter
Pictures by S. Stöhrer