The fun of learning a language – welcome to the “English Conversation Club”
Every Tuesday and Thursday from 15:15 – 16:00 o’clock some pupils from grade 3 & 4 get together with two English teachers from Germany to enjoy some extra language-learning-time in our new “English Conversation Club”.
In the beginning, we faced the problem of how to “acquire” pupils in the schoolyard during “Activity time” who would be interested in doing an English activity. Either the pupils took part in one of the numerous sporting activities that range from volleyball over sepak takraw to Lao dancing, table tennis, pétanque, or karate, or they simply were too shy to speak to us. So after some consultations we decided to make the option less open and to start an “English Conversation Club” (ECC).
The idea was to meet in a classroom, which offers a safer and quieter learning atmosphere than the busy schoolyard. With the help of Souvanh Navong and Leud Sengsavangvong, two of our English teachers at Ban Phang Heng Lower Secondary School, we put posters up in every grade 3 & 4 classroom to call their attention.
The next step was to draw up a list of names of the students who want to participate, and to hand it to the director Mr. Khampheng Boun Tha Lavong, to get his permission. As is usual in Laos, before implementing a new idea at school, we were dependent on his written agreement.
Finally, on Thursday, 13th of October 2016, we turned our plans into action. The first ECC class took place in a small classroom with 43 students who had all come to improve their English.
One month has passed by since we started with this latest addition to our Lao-English learning adventure. There are 20 students who come regularly to every lesson. Up until now we have covered the topics “This is me”, “My Day”, “My hobbies”, “The weather”, “Animals”, and “Clothes”. We also competed against each other in various English language-games, for example Chinese Whispers, Jeopardy, a classroom version of Pictionary, “Who is it?”, and other interactive activities.
The main aim of the ECC is to let the students speak. Sometimes it was quite challenging to get the students to come out of their shells. But with time the ECC turned into an easy-going and relaxed environment where the pupils feel comfortable speaking and do not have to be afraid of making mistakes. For the next weeks, we want to extend our range to real-life conversations, debates, students’ blog entries, and more fun games & songs.
We are very proud of our pupils. It is very rewarding for us to see their motivation every lesson, to see how thankful they are for everything we do, and to see their progression over time.
Text by A. Broghammer & D. Schrep
Photos by A. Broghammer, D. Schrep & S. Schäfer