“The greatest gift is a passion for reading.”
– Elizabeth Hardwick
I have been working hard this term to lower my expectations and focus on embracing more of a mentor role for my students. We study less grammar and talk more about problems they encounter in school and at home. So far it is going well and I find myself less frustrated at the end of the day. They are still learning English (I hope) but I am trying to change my approach to reach more learners. One of my initiatives for the past few weeks has been to foster a love of reading through exposure to American children’s books. Since they have never really read a book just to read it they don’t really understand the concept quite yet. The continually ask me for marks (grades) when they read and I have to reassure them it is an exercise that will not be graded and it is just for fun. There are surprisingly a lot of really big words in children’s books these days so they spend a decent amount of time learning new vocabulary but they enjoy the pictures and some of the students actually spend the time reading. I was spending so much time answering vocabulary questions that I implemented a rule that they had to ask another student or look the word up in a dictionary before they could ask me. This is working pretty well except the other day I felt horrible when two exasperated boys called me over after searching in the dictionary for 15 minutes for the word “Scooby-Doo.” There is no exact translation for “my bad” in Kinyarwanda so a quick explanation and apology had to suffice although they seemed slightly annoyed to learn it was the name of a cartoon dog! 🙂
Here are a few shots of them reading last week. I managed to get a few candid shots before they realized the camera was out and then it turned into a 15-minute photo shoot.