Are you listening?

Children learn 'J' for jellyfish!

Are you listening? Our students certainly are, as they put their hand to their ear and respond “Yes, I’m listening!” at the start of our English classes. In TYO’s Core English program this summer, supported by the Abdul Hamid Shoman Foundation, our children’s confidence in listening, speaking and writing English has visibly improved. Through art, dance, games and immersion in the English language, students have explored the alphabet and new vocabulary.

In our first classes, the difference in abilities between our students were marked. Some students were hesitant in responding to questions, or even to pronounce new words. Others struggled to connect English words to pictures, giving the familiar Arabic words instead. Distinguishing between similar sounds, such as G and J, and matching the correct responses to different questions, was also a challenge for many children.

As the weeks have progressed, the difference in abilities have slowly faded. Students have become familiar with questions such as “How are you?” and “What is your name?” and different responses through songs and corresponding actions. They now happily march into the classroom singing at the tops of their voices when 5 weeks prior, they made only a shy attempt to sing along. They use their newfound voice to express how they feel, and confidently identify the letters that make up each day’s new words.

Our experience shows that children, given the opportunity, can rapidly progress. Each day for the past 5 weeks, students learned a new letter with corresponding words, and have been adding to their English booklet. On the last day of classes, students ‘graduated’, striding up to the front of the room one-by-one to the tune of Pomp and Circumstance, the traditional US graduation ceremony music. They shook our hands and proudly took their English booklets, all remnants of hesitation replaced by a self-confidence that will assist in their continued development. They are listening, and they are learning.

- TYO intern, Yvonne and Fellow, Michelle

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