This question is heard echoing in classrooms across the US this week as children and youth go back to school after a long break. Students share stories of camps, traveling, and outdoor adventures combine with intervals of giggles as fond memories of the past months with friends and teachers.
Students in six Shanta partner villages had a new story to tell of their break when they returned to school earlier this year. Traditionally, students in Myanmar spend their breaks working in the field with their parents, babysitting younger siblings, playing in the village, fishing, and swimming. This year, they had opportunities for adventures in learning the English language.
“We all noticed that our children were struggling with their English classes at school. To pass onto to each grade they must do well in English. Shanta/Muditar told us about their English Language Summer program bringing in special teachers for six weeks of summer school. Our village voted, and quickly decided we wanted to participate”, remarked a parent of Bayar Ngar Sue village.
Teachers were hired, the curriculum was developed including sentence structure, tenses, parts of speech, conversational English, and storytelling. Activities and excursions were created so that learning was both interactive and fun.
A pre-test was given at the beginning of the course to determine baselines for the students – an average of only 35 percent of the students passed. In the end, students took a post-test and an average of 80 percent of students passed! A closing ceremony was hosted in each village for students to showcase their work and to celebrate their efforts.
Students have learned not only strengthened their English, but also learned valuable life skills: how to participate in group work, communication, decision making, care for the environment, public speaking, and self-confidence. All 312 students have spent their summertime in a valuable way. The VDT and parents from all six villages are asking to host these English Summer Language classes again next year.
“Last year, school was hard. It was boring learning English by reciting the words over and over. I tried the summer class. We went outside and took field trips. We had fun and learned at the same time. I am now doing much better in school.”
-Sixth Grade student from Pin Lone Village.
“Because of you, our youth had new ways to get engaged, educated, and be inspired. Your generous support gives opportunities to tomorrow’s leaders.”- Myint Myint Khaing, Shanta/Muditar Education Program Officer
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