By Brooke Beyer
Brooke and her mother, Gretchen, spent a week volunteering at Tchey School, working on english enrichment and teaching Irish dance. Here is Brooke’s account of all of the jumping, skipping, turning, and her favorite moments during her time spent volunteering with PLF.
“My parents first met Ponheary in 2005 while on holiday in Siem Reap. Ponheary was not only a fantastic tour guide around the Ankgor Wat temples, but she also told my parents about her mission: to get as many children in school as possible. We kept in touch and since then the PLF has gained much more recognition and grown immensely – so when we moved to Singapore in the summer of 2014 I wanted to visit the PLF and learn more about volunteering opportunities.
Last year upon visiting the PLF I decided I wanted to volunteer teaching English enrichment as I know speaking English is crucial for many jobs in one of Cambodia’s biggest industries, tourism, and I knew I’d be able to really help as a fluent English speaker.
The weeks before my visit were spent busily preparing my lessons as I was given free reign of two English classes every day for a week at the Tchey School. Eager to make the lessons both fun and beneficial I planned a mix of worksheets and games to consolidate their previous knowledge of English and teach new vocabulary. Through activities such flashcards, charades and Hangman games I taught the children the weather, body and actions, colours and greetings and on Friday all of the students were able to conduct short conversations and answer questions about their hobbies etc.
Perhaps the most fun part of the class was the student led activities. I thought that by giving the children as much speaking time as possible their English skills would improve vastly and I thoroughly enjoyed watching them have short conversations with each other in front of the class about the weather and things they liked. The students were also very enthusiastic about songs and group games such as Hangman. I let students lead the class and write on the board as it was both good practice writing English words, and very entertaining for the students!
I love to Irish dance and spend much of my time learning and teaching at my dance school. I decided to introduce the students to Irish dancing at the end of each lesson and to slowly teach them enough steps to be able to dance a short Ceili (team) routine by Friday. This went tremendously well – the students were very enthusiastic and the end result was fantastic! The dance also helped them learn some movement vocabulary such as “jump”, “skip” and “turn.” This was a new way of learning as their school days don’t include any physical education or sports classes.
Although the preparation was hard work, it definitely paid off. I was able to see that the students were enjoying their classes and I’d really made a difference in their English education. I only stayed one week but I plan on returning to Cambodia to work with the PLF again now that I know which activities work best in the classroom and what the students enjoy most. One of my favourite aspects of the whole trip was the exciting Tuk Tuk rides out of the city to the school every day. It was fascinating to catch of glimpse of rural life in Cambodia and motivated me to want to help the students as much as I could in order for them to be more successful in later life.”