Thursday, 5 November 2015

Teaching English & Computer Skills in South Africa

 The final blog in our series of experiences shared by Texas State University teaching students who volunteered in the Wild Coast Schools for three weeks during July this year. This blog was written by Bri who volunteered at Bulugha School teaching computer literacy and English. Bulugha School has been receiving weekly computer lessons from VA32 volunteers since 2005. It is interesting to read about the difference in experiences from Bri and Emily (whose blog entitled "The Challenges of Volunteering in Rural South African Schools" can be read here), who completed the same projects but in different schools. The level of English speaking, creative thought and competency on the computer equipment is higher at Bulugha School where volunteer presence has been sustained and consistent, and makes teaching in Chefani School a bigger challenge where support is intermittent and the learners have not had as much exposure to technology or experience in the English language.

"For the past 8 days we have been working at Bulugha Primary School. We worked with 4 different grades, 4, 5, 6 and 7. We saw each group every other day. With grades 4 and 5 we taught a project called “The Best Part of Me.” This project consisted of the children picking their favorite body part and writing a short poem. When the poem was completed, the students took pictures using the iPads. They also recorded themselves reading their poems aloud for the iMovie. After all the work was compiled the students used iMovie on the iPads to create their own movie. They added music, special effects, and even titles onto the slides.
It was so impressive how quickly the learners caught on. After one student made their movie, he or she helped guide the others through the process without our help. It was outstanding seeing how they supported each other.
With grades 6 and 7, the students created a “This I Believe” poem. For this project the students picked one idea they strongly believed in and wrote a paragraph on it. They wrote why they believed in their topic and a story about the meaning of their belief. It was absolutely lovely seeing how passionate the students were. 
Their ideas were not just about every day things. The children were passionate about the ANC, unity and non-discrimination. The students’ ideas were brilliant. Students then took photographs around the school for their iMovies. They also recorded themselves reading their papers to put in their movies. It was impressive that these students quickly picked up on the technology. I couldn’t be more proud to say I worked with these students. 
The first part of wanting to become a teacher is wanting to give students opportunity. You want to help them in ways no one else could ever do. After working with these children I could see how much they appreciated the volunteers that come every year. The crazy thing is that I came into this school as a teacher but I left learning more than I could have taught. I learned about kindness and patience from the children. When we were trying to speak in Xhosa they were so determined to help and work with us. I learned about the compassion that runs through these children. They were so proud of who they were, where they came from and what they believed in. I am so fortunate to have had the privilege to be surrounded by them. I will take away all the things I have learned and memories I have made and cherish them in my heart forever."

By Bri

Volunteer Teacher on the Wild Coast Schools Project, Chintsa South Africa
Teaching Student at Texas State University

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