Teaching ruminations

I had a bit of a wobble teaching today.  Objectively, it probably wasn’t that bad, but I didn’t feel I nailed it, and it was definitely a session of two halves.

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I was doing stuff on weddings in Cambodia, which are incredibly long-winded and complex things.  It involved a lot of new vocab and new concepts.  The basic premise was that I’d talk about weddings in the UK – which I did using a large photo of a cliché bride and groom and elicited words they knew, then did disappearing words to reinforce the vocab.  I began by playing a YouTube rendition of ‘here comes the bride’ which they recognised from western films so that sort of set the mood.

The book has an endless list of Khmer ceremonies and accompanying photos, but the photos are poor quality and the students didn’t seem to know all the ceremonies anyway.  The phrase ‘blind leading the blind’ comes to mind.  In my first group, the students were only three, and one had forgotten his book. It all got a bit giggly and I felt frustrated that I didn’t manage the situation better.  It was hard to be interactive with that dynamic and I probably covered too much material.

In the second group I had 8 students, one of whom appeared for the first time. This session went very much better.  I had them act out a UK wedding party with bride and groom and bridesmaids and they appeared to enjoy that. They got the various ceremonies off cuff so that made it a lot easier.  We then did a catastrophic attempt at running dication, which made me realise I have no idea how to organise that activity correctly. I got them in two teams and one had to whisper the ceremony and someone else had to write it on the board. The team that did all four phrases first won and was given money. But then we corrected the phrases and money was taken away for mistakes – or more accurately I gave out extra money to students who spotted them (fake money that is, just to be clear, my pockets aren’t that deep!)

  • The cleansing ceremony
  • The groom’s processional
  • The passing of the blessings
  • The call to  the ancestors
  • The monks blessing
  • The honoring of the parents
  • The knot tying ceremony

 It knocked my confidence a bit.  Probably disproportionately.  The first group had a good time, but I felt not much learning was taking place and too much Khmer was spoken, I need to work out a way to manage that.  Re the second group, on reflection I think that session actually went well, it was just less frenetic than usual.  Because I’m still feeling my way, I think I confused attentiveness for boredom. We go through materials so slowly, but that is the speed appropriate to the level of English in the group.  I do feel though that I am not a natural with the lower level English speakers.  I find it frustrating that communication is so very challenging, and I miss the banter you can have with more fluent international students.  Nevertheless, it is a learning curve.  I get real job satisfaction when things go well. It will be good for me to have to plan some alternative strategies for the next day’s teaching.  Good for me, but knackering too.  Oh well.  Here are some pictures in the meantime to get you in the mood:


One response to “Teaching ruminations

  1. Pingback: Reflections on Existence and Teaching | From guestwriters·

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