The Journey Begins

The translator, Farah, developed her relationships with students during the oral assessment, this has helped her to connect with students in class. Spring 2014 marks the beginning of TYO's ninth International Internship Program.  After a week of rigorous orientation training, four dynamic and dedicated international interns   embarked on an ambitious English language learning pilot session, supported by talented local Youth Service Volunteers.

TYO responded to local feedback that the students would greatly benefit from classes that teach English while keeping with the TYO model that nurtures children's psychosocial well-being. As interns, we see this as an opportunity to tap in to students' creative energies through innovative, play-based approaches to learning English.

After the warmest of welcomes to their first classes, children completed short verbal and written pre-assessment activities.  This informs the lesson planning process, and determines existing language capabilities and will then be used for comparative analysis when the same assessment is repeated at the close of the session.

As interns, we were apprehensive about giving the students an assessment on the first day!  “Hello, nice to meet you. Now I'm going to put you on the spot and see how little English you know.” We were concerned that this would leave children with a negative first impression of class with us at TYO.  Instead we learned that conducting an oral assessment with every individual student was a crucial relationship building task.
Every student was able to correctly answer the first question by responding with their name, this meant we were able to deliver our first personal enthusiastic TYO-high-fives. From thereon, most children made mistakes, but the translator would always reassure, “Hey it's ok! We don't expect you to know this now, but isn't it going to be amazing when you know this at the end of the session?!” Such affirmation was always received with a shy smile and recognition that it's ok to make mistakes when learning.
The verbal assessment gave more advanced students and opportunity to show off their impressive vocabulary and some even cracked jokes. One grade 6 boy answered “No” to “Can you sing?” The translator probed some more to see if he really understood. In Arabic he said, “I know what she asked, but I don't want to sing now!” We laughed and laughed and he was so pleased to make that kind of impression on us.

Students in Grades 4 to 9 generally exhibited a broad spectrum of ability,  ranging from confident and articulate verbal expression to minimal comprehension and speaking skills.  The overall level of aptitude does not appear to vary significantly between age groups, posing challenges to the development of stimulating activities serving diverse ages but focusing on the same core material.

So the journey begins! We are looking forward to conducting comparative analysis with the summative assessment and seeing the tangible difference that TYO makes on the lives of children in Nablus.

This program - as part of Student Training and Employment Program (STEP!) - is sponsored in part by the Abdul Hamid Shoman Foundation.

- Celia and Laura

Celia and Laura are Spring 2014 interns at TYO in Nablus