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Teaching, General Teaching Projects in Sri Lanka by Kimberly Hatzl

My students

After teaching the young monks for a couple of weeks at Welipitiya temple, I had gotten the routine down well. I’d step out of the tuk tuk, walk through the temple gates, take my sandals off and walk to the area outside of a building where we would be holding class for the day. As our class was held outdoors, the sounds of Sri Lanka flooded into our classroom; the sounds of tuk tuks on the road, people speaking in Sinhala, and the mooing of the many cows that lived at the temple.

A new teaching experience

It became a common thing that roughly forty-five minutes into the class, cows would come running from all directions from behind the temple towards the gates followed by a man, who I presumed to be in charge of the cows. One morning as the cows were being herded towards the gates, a couple of them decided that the shortest path to the gate was through my classroom.

Teaching my class

Considering, I was dressed in a saree and walking was a slight challenge, an attempt at to herd cows out of my classroom was not acceptable idea. Instead, I pointed towards the cows and said the English word “cows” and my students responded with giggles and said “e-lah-dhe-nah”. I tried again, I thought that maybe they didn’t understand that I meant cows and I got the same response.

A couple of my students got up and chased the cows out of my classroom and helped the man in charge of them to steer the rest away. In the meantime, I pulled out my Sinhala phrasebook from my bag and searched franticly for “cow”. Once I found it, I showed it to the students and pointed towards the few straggling cows left in our view; they pointed at the cows and said “e-lah-dhe-nah” and showed me the Sinhala spelling in my phrase book.

It was such a great moment for all of us to connect English and Sinhala based on a realistic event that we all could relate to; the fact that a few “e-lah-dhe-nah” had just wandered into our class. The monks thought it was hilarious when I would try to copy how they would pronounce Sinhala words but it sparked a new level of teaching that allowed us to link Sinhala words that they knew to the English words that I was teaching them.

Kimberly Hatzl

Ce témoignage est basé sur l’expérience unique d’un volontaire à un certain moment donné. Nos projets s’adaptent constamment aux besoins locaux, ils évoluent au fur et à mesure que des volontaires s’impliquent et s’adaptent aux saisons, ainsi votre expérience sur place pourra être différente de celle décrite ici. Pour en savoir plus sur cette mission, vous pouvez consulter la page de ce projet ou bien contacter l’un de nos conseillers de volontaires.

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