The Global Bulldog
Volume 2, Issue 1
Updates from campus
Read about what has been going on at Schoenberg from the PCMI coordinator.
Discover what the holiday season was like for PCMI student Britt Harmon in Macedonia.
Learn what PCMI student Stephanie Dempsey-‐Kalawe has been doing in Malawi.
Publication of Gonzaga University’s Peace Corps Master’s International Program
Ingles, inglish, Englesh, engis, inles, Engles Cheyanne Greer, PCV Mozambique
I figured that after six to ten years of English lessons, my students would, at the very least, be able to spell the word English, right? Wrong! This is just one teeny tiny example of the many challenges I face teaching English here in Mozambique. My students grew up speaking one or two local African languages. Then learned Portuguese, the colonial and now national language. In sixth grade they are expected to start learning French and English to help communicate with their neighboring countries and the world.
English in Malawi
You see, Mozambique made the decision after the Mozambican War of Independence ending in 1975, to choose Portuguese as the national language instead of
Here I am with some of my students English or French because it would be too difficult to teach the whole nation a new language. However, many of the people never learned Portuguese
because of the little or no schooling available during the struggle for independence and the political violence that followed. Instead of changing the national language when the literacy rate was already so low, they chose to keep Portuguese and add English as a third or fourth language. Now with the country slowly growing, more schools being built and teachers being trained, the population is slowly becoming more literate in Portuguese. This is a positive sign of growth, but the country is still struggling to communicate with the rest of the world – struggling to learn language without proper materials, resources and teachers. (Continues on page 2)
The government has created a new curriculum that looks great from an outside perspective. It shows a somewhat logical acceleration of English language learning starting in sixth grade. However, these expectations are almost impossible to achieve because of certain situations within the schooling system in Mozambique. The schools consist of 40 to 100 students in each classroom. Usually, the students don’t have books and often don’t have desks or chairs. Sometimes, classrooms are equipped only with a blackboard that is often in bad shape. The students may be hungry or sick or unbelievably hot. Teachers teach using a mix of grammar translation and audio-‐lingual methods. In my experience, the students do not practice speaking in a conversational or impromptu manner. I have not seen them learn how to critically think or analyze problems, only to understand and fix them in the same way as has always been taught. The classes are so big and hard to control; I have found it makes group work and speaking activities very hard to successfully implement.
competency to continue. When this happens, it leaves them even farther behind. Teachers pass students for many reasons that may have nothing to do with their competency in the subject matter. Sometimes students make it all the way through school without being able to read or write.
Classroom in Mozambique
Classroom in Mozambique
These students are often passed from grade to grade whether or not they actually have the
When asked how many of her 50 students spoke Portuguese at home a local first grade teacher responded, “only one”. This problem exists throughout Mozambique. Parents often don’t learn Portuguese themselves or choose not to use it with their children at home. This often causes students to be behind when they begin school due to the fact that school is mainly taught in Portuguese. It is important to learn their mother tongue, but not being exposed to Portuguese at home makes it difficult to communicate with other Mozambicans or foreigners. While many students are still struggling with Portuguese, they start taking classes in English. After four to six years of English, they still do not have many basic language skills.
Here I am with students who have had years of English and are still struggling. After a year of teaching, I feel like I have actually made a difference in my students’ English skills. I have 40 students that I will be teaching basic sixth grade English. They will leave here after 2 years prepared to do what they need to do, at least as far as English is concerned. I have been able to accomplish this because I work in a small teacher training school with classes of 20 respectful students. I have a great roommate and colleagues with whom I co-‐teach and a supportive school. My students are well behaved and willing to learn. I was able to use communicative methods in my classroom such as group work and student centered learning to help them reach the levels they need to be successful. However, things are starting to move forward in Mozambique. The program at my school has changed from a one year to a three-‐year program. This means that teachers will have two more years of preparation before going into schools. The new goal is to focus on competency and present new strategies and ideas for teaching. The government is encouraging the use of didactic materials. They are also introducing transversal themes such as HIV/AIDS, pollution, and clean water into the everyday curriculum. If the government is able to better educate and (Continues on page 3)
prepare teachers, then a trickle-‐ down effect will hopefully follow. Teachers will better educate their students who will then become better learners and citizens. As a volunteer I often feel like my contribution to Mozambique is not much if anything and then I realize it is the opposite. I have the education and training of future primary school teachers in my hands. I have the ability to pass on my ideas and the methods and training I have received. I have the ability to change the way my students look at the world.
If not, then at least I have created positive long-‐lasting relationships with my students. They have learned about American culture and how to trust a teacher. They have learned that students do not have to be afraid to learn and behave. They have learned that I care about them and their future.
Some of my students
These are my girls!
Matrimony in Malawi
Stephanie Dempsey-Kalawe, PCV Malawi
On August 10, 2013, I married my best friend. We met through a friend in my village and then I realized that we lived very close to each other. Turns out, to get to my house, I had to pass his. Every time I passed by, hung out, or dropped by, we got closer. We started dating in my second year as a volunteer and were engaged on December 12, 2012. The rest is history! I truly have gotten more out of my service than I planned. Words cannot express my exuberance!
I have the ability to create critical thinkers and positive teachers. If I can make even a small change in the training of these teachers that they take out into the field, then I have accomplished more than I thought was possible.
An American in Macedonia: The Christmas Special
This was my first Christmas holiday away from home. Like most unmarried persons my age, I would trek from wherever I had ended up in the preceding year back home to celebrate among family and friends, in a familiar environment, with good wine, tons of food involving pork products, and snow adventures. I knew this would not be happening this Christmas, because at some point you trek a bit too far to return on a whim, the plane tickets become a bit too dear or, as in my case, you don’t want to miss out on seeing the way holidays are spent elsewhere and you also aren’t allowed to leave the country until March 1st.
Christmas Dinner This year, I celebrated Christmas twice. My first Christmas was in Skopje, on Christmas day, with the family of an old friend whose relatives all happen to be Macedonian. Knowing that I would be in Macedonia during a holiday usually spent among family, my friend’s mother planned an
Britt Harmon, PCV Macedonia
entire American Christmas also, doing my best to help my celebration for us; my friend Ivo significant other out when he visiting to renew his work visa, had no idea what was going on. my boyfriend Sean visiting to see It was a holiday I will never both Ivo and I, and the entire forget, and I look forward to Andova family. What I loved repeating this experience again about this celebration was that, next year. other than it being on the day of American Christmas, there was nothing very American about it. During the beautifully arranged dinner, we ate ajvar, traditional Macedonian bread, and any number of traditional Macedonian foods. We drank great wine and talked in a mix of Sean & I Macedonian and English and listened to hours of traditional Macedonian music. It was Sean and I wonderful and just enough like Christmas back home to assuage My s econd Christmas was spent my homesickness, but different with my host family in Lipkovo, enough for me to enjoy the near Kumanovo. My host family novelty of the scene in which I is Albanian and therefore this was a part. Christmas celebration was what I would call Christmassy. I spent the evening with my host sister and cousins making Christmas cookies, and then eating them.
The Andova family and me
Macedonian, not being the primary language I communicate with in Macedonia, I found myself working hard to understand the conversation and
My cousins and host sister
(Continues on page 5)
Then I presented each of my relatives with a little thoughtful gift: a small Santa wreath to my host mom and brightly colored nail polishes to all my female relatives. Mostly, this Christmas celebration was spent in conversation with my family, enjoying their company, and drinking Turkish çai. We talked about religion in my family, whether or not I am missing my relatives, and me being happy here in Macedonia. My host family was worried that I would be unhappy in Macedonia during the holidays and despite their not celebrating Christmas as a traditional Muslim family, made
every effort to make me feel at home and loved. They even surprised me with a few little gifts of my own-‐-‐a scarf and a pair of sparkly earrings. They kept me well fed with sarma and other tasty foods.
My host parents, cousin and me
There was no wine, there were no pork products, and there was
no snow, but I felt very welcomed, loved and a part of the family: the whole point of a Christmas celebration. I feel as though I am truly blessed in my situation, with both my host family, and my extended Macedonian family in Skopje. Though my Christmas holiday was unconventional by American standards, I wouldn’t change it for any ticket to the States. It was an eye-‐opening experience to realize that you need not be among people related to you by blood in order to find people who love you and want you to feel at home.
Updates from Campus
Tyler Wasson, PCMI Coordinator
It has already been a cold winter and our ESL students are shocked by it. MA TESL and ESL Assistant Professor Ron Harris retired last year and we held a retirement party for him on the same day as an event celebrating 35 years of the ELC and 15 years of the MA TESL program. Our original 5-‐year Memorandum of Understanding with the PCMI program has been renewed. Currently, we have 4 pre-‐service PCMI students – one of which, Kate Barba, left for Ecuador in January. Our December 2013 FFF was the largest we have had in a long time, it featured presentations from 5 graduating MA TESL students. We remain highly connected with the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers Peace in Spokane, and I was named President of the Inland Northwest Corps Association for the 2014 calendar year.
Kate Barba left for Peace Corps service in Ecuador mid-‐January.
Britt Harmon is the new editor for The Global Bulldog starting March 2014. Stephanie Dempsey-‐ Kalawe has extended her Peace Corps service and will be staying another year in Malawi.
Teaching English in Malawi Stephanie Dempsey-Kalawe, PCV Malawi
During the 2013-‐14 school year-‐ my third year as a volunteer, I decided to concentrate mostly on teaching English since my goal after graduating is to teach English as Second Language in primary school classrooms. Along with my regular co-‐ teaching in primary school classrooms, I was fortunate to start an English Club to support students who need further guidance at my base school and complete a series of observations to use as the subject of one of my continuous development workshops.
Club. It meets twice a week after school, not to interfere with their already packed curriculum. The English Club allows for extended class time and more individual assistance. Class periods are 35 minutes and class sizes average 150 per class. During English Club, learners receive assistance in basic English skills, which are not focused on during regular English classes for students in grades fifth through eighth.
English Club Throughout my service, I have taught standards, fifth through eighth grades. In these levels, teachers are required to conduct all their lessons in English only except for during their native vernacular class, Chichewa. However, in grades first through fourth the students in Malawian Primary Schools have their lessons in their first language, Chichewa, aside from English class (which is taught in English). Unfortunately, many students struggle with functioning in English-‐only classes in grades fifth through eighth. To assist students with the vocabulary and grammatical structures that teachers don’t have time to go back and review extensively, I began the English
A classroom in Malawi Since the club is on a volunteer basis, it allows for a smaller class size. As a result, I am able to use a learner-‐centered approach. At the beginning of the Club session, I teach a basic skill to the whole group and then split them into smaller groups to practice the same topics. There are collaborative as well as individual exercises and lots of repetition. The students learn vocabulary from magazine pictures, conduct listening activities from a voice recorder and practice reading and speaking using a laptop that was donated by a Canadian traveler.
By the end of the school year, my goal is to help the consistent participants to improve their basic understanding of English and be able to function better in English in their classes at school.
Teachers to Teachers: Techniques for Teaching English After observing second, fourth, fifth, seventh and eighth grade English classes in some of the local schools, I designed a training workshop based on the topics which drew most concern for teachers. I also included some teaching techniques that could be used in addition to the techniques currently used within the classroom. The workshop began with a gallery walk of different teaching techniques. Of those that were demonstrated, some they had learned about in college and others are often used in American classrooms. The techniques I showcased were: scaffolding, pre-‐teaching vocabulary, alternative ways of assessing students, think-‐pair-‐ share, and guided practice. The participants had to read a short passage explaining each technique and then decide which three would be most useful for their classrooms. I found this approach helpful because I had so many techniques to share. (Continues on page 7)
If I had chosen a lecture style, it may have been boring for my participants. After reading about the different techniques, the teachers chose their top three preferences. Then in small groups, came up with the top three teaching strategies they would use in their classroom. We then repeated the same activity as a whole group. The top three teaching techniques chosen by the whole group were: think-‐pair-‐share, guided practice, and scaffolding.
teaching techniques they learned in this workshop along with strategies they already knew to collaborate the best way to plan for the given lesson. Often teachers are hesitant to plan ahead for lessons due to time constraints and an overwhelming class load. This activity gave them some simple ideas for preparation and execution of their English lessons.
words into Chichewa, the local language. At the end of the activity, they were given a worksheet on eight ways to teach a word and we discussed how each one could work in the classroom, so they could then share with their classes at their various schools.
The second part of the workshop included an exchange between colleagues. Teachers don’t always get a chance to collaborate or share what they do in class from day to day with others who are teaching the same subjects. So small groups discussed how they approached different topics in English classes, such as reading comprehension, composition writing, vocabulary acquisition, and grammar. This activity helped the teachers to exchange ideas that have worked in their classrooms. I called this activity “Iron Sharpens Iron.” We also focused on how to prepare for class. In this activity the teachers had to take a sample lesson plan and decide how they would plan for that particular lesson. They used the
Some of the participating teachers
Finally, we focused on vocabulary acquisition. Teachers were shown different ways to teach a vocabulary word. Each small group was given an activity to teach the whole group. First they had to understand it amongst themselves and teach the words to the class. One small group had the words door, chair, and window. They drew pictures of the words, pointed to the actual objects and asked participants to translate the
I am learning so much from both my English Club and the teaching workshops. I am looking forward to seeing the improvements in the schools and the students I work with here in the Niewa Zone, Malawi.
At the end of the workshop, the teachers provided their feedback and were given an assignment. The attending teachers would have to re-‐teach what they learned about teaching English to their colleagues in the form of their own workshop at their own schools. They would be responsible for organizing and engaging the teachers at their school based on what they learned. So far, one teacher who participated in my workshop has invited me to their follow-‐up workshop. This school term I will spend time observing the follow-‐up workshops. Through these activities the teachers are learning that the way primary schools in Malawi will improve is if the teachers take ownership of their own learning and that of their students.
Upcoming Campus Events
Spokane Regional ESL Conference Feb. 22, 2014 8 a.m.-‐4 p.m. Mukogawa Fort Wright Institute . Peace Corps Week Feb. 23-‐March 1, 2014 peacecorps.gov/pcweek Peace Corps Week at Gonzaga Feb. 27, 2014 5 p.m. -‐6 p.m. Crosby Hall Peace Corps Panel Discussion Feb. 25, 2014 12 p.m. -‐1 p.m. Collage Hall Peace Corps Visits Gonzaga Feb. 27, 2014 9 a.m.-‐4p.m. Crosby Hall March 9, 2014 9 a.m. -‐4 p.m. First Friday Forum The first Friday of every month Schoenberg Rm201 Visit peacecorps.gov for more information on Peace Corps visits to Gonzaga campus
Stephanie Dempsey, PCV Peace Corps P.O. Box 208 Lilongwe, Malawi, Africa firstname.lastname@example.org
Zach Wegner, PCV Peace Corps Samoa Private mailbag Apia, Western Samoa, South Pacific email@example.com General Information gonzaga.edu/pcmi firstname.lastname@example.org (509) 313-‐6560
Cheyanne Greer, PCV C.P. 31 Maxixe Inhambane Province, Mozambique email@example.com Britt Harmon, PCV
Tyler Wasson firstname.lastname@example.org (509) 313-‐5593
35 E 30th Ave. Spokane, WA 99203 email@example.com
Melissa Heid firstname.lastname@example.org (509) 313-‐6560
Frances Peterson, PCV Cuerpo de Paz 162 Chaco Boreal c/Mcal. López Asunción 1580, Paraguay South America email@example.com Amanda Walsh, PCV BP 31 Adeta, Togo, West Africa firstname.lastname@example.org
James Hunter email@example.com (509) 313-‐6564 Please share your ideas, events and articles for our next newsletter. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Published on Feb 11, 2014