Sunday, September 22, 2013

You can take the kid out of the jungle ...

The Orang Asli (original people) in Malaysia commonly live deep in the jungle, and providing traditional education for them is tricky at best. About an hour away from here in the jungle area around the huge lake - Tasik Kenyir - there is an Orang Asli school. A little village has been built by the school, uniforms are provided, and every arrangement has been made to make it possible for these little tikes to come in and have some education.

Our Teacher Mentor colleagues (working in the the schools where we work in the Teacher Training Institute) have been running "English is Fun Fairs" in various local schools, employing some of our trainee teachers as helpers - and giving the trainees some extra school experience. An "English is Fun Fair" was arranged for the Orang Asli children, and we were invited to be a part of it.

So first of all there was a bit of a ceremony - a little assembly.

 We had to sit up the front - which was quite pleasant because there was a ceiling fan above us, and it was such a hot day!

There were more adults and foreigners than there were kids - only 25 of them.

They behaved quite well, considering how little they understood of what was going on. The speeches were mostly in Bahasa Malaysia, sometimes in English - but they have their own language. So at this age they are struggling to learn two new languages, as well as learning to read and write ...

The little boy in the front row soon lost interest and turned around where there was much more to see. Soon he and the boy behind him started to tussle, and the chairs were nearly upturned ...

Suddenly the guy up front spoke a few words in the local dialect, and they turned around in surprise.

Now they were mostly little angels again.

Then it was time for the "Fun Fair" part. This was also very new to these kids!

The idea was to get them to read English words or phonemes. In this game, for example, there was a little ball under one of the three cups, so of course they had to guess where it was ... and say the word.

The Teacher Mentors had designed and created (and laminated!) the games. The trainee teachers we brought along very gently explained everything to them.

These young trainees are still in the 'Foundation' phase of their training, so it was great fun for them to actually experience getting among the little kids for the first time.

In this game they had to throw little rings over those sticks - and then say the word - harder than it looks!

And, of course, there was a fishing game which the little boys were right into.

They loved the face painting, too, and soon got over their shyness.

 This little kid does not know what to make of this new experience with a foreigner!

And THEN they finally realised that if they made the right sounds when they played the games they were given little tokens.

And with these tokens, they could buy all these amazing prizes! Pretty soon they were walking away with armloads of ... stuff!

With that sort of incentive, who doesn't want to learn phonics!

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