English Lessons with ‘Miss Kathryn’ and ‘Miss Emma’
In September 2007, two students from Liverpool University, Kathryn and Emma, spent two weeks at Al Ashrafieh, a junior school in Misdar. They took as many educational aids as they could squeeze in their luggage. The children responded enthusiastically to the lively, creative activities in the dual language books.
Kathryn, from Bedford, applied to the Catenian Bursary Fund, which generously gave £300Kathryn and a student towards travel costs. Bursary Fund Chairman, Peter Martin said: “We are delighted the Bursary Fund can assist Catholic students to help with education in the Holy Land. We are willing to fund projects with the Christian Schools in Jordan and Palestine”. Kathryn subsequently ran a half marathon to raise more money for Al Ashrafieh. Here are some extracts from Kathryn’s diary:
The school day begins at 7.20 am with a short assembly outside on the tarmac playground with the children lined up in their respective classes. A short drill follows and the national anthem is sung. Then a few prayers but all-in-all the assembly is kept quite short.
The school itself is very bare like a hospital, with long corridors and classrooms with white washed walls. There is room for the children to play football, but the playground is also the car park for teachers and the four school buses, leaving the area for playing greatly reduced. Kathryn with some more of her studentsThe lower school teaches children from 1st grade up to 9th grade and the children are aged from 5 – 15 years old. With 5th grade we took students out for individual conversation practice. Whilst the teachers wanted us to take the brightest students, we specifically focused on the quieter children who have little or no interaction during lessons. 5th grade are 11 years old but they had forgotten the simplest of English. The teacher was giving a grammar lesson but one of my students Joel could not tell me when his birthday was or what day of the week it was. By the end of our session he knew days of the week, months of the year and his birthday. Many students were similar to Joel, but at the slower pace, individual learning helped tremendously. We conducted paired reading with 5th grade.
One boy, Yazan, really enjoyed ‘The Hungry Caterpillar’. I asked him to read the English first and then the Arabic. Towards the end of the book he longer needed to read the Arabic. At the end of the book where the caterpillar gets “stomach ache”, Yazan didn’t understand this word. After reading it in Arabic and using it in a sentence he went back to class. The next day I saw Yazan sat in a chair near the staff room looking upset. I asked him what was wrong and told me in perfect English, “I have a stomach ache Miss Kathryn”.