Thursday, January 27, 2011


At announcements today our Pedagogical Director informed everyone that the Mozambican Government has raised the national security status to a code red, due to the heavy rains that have been falling for about a month now. He asked the students to relate this message to their families and neighbors, because very few people read the news or listen to the radio. The government has urged people living in lower areas to evacuate, to stock up on goods, and to be cautious around lakes and rivers. A young boy in Gaza province drowned in a river a few days ago, probably due to stronger-than-usual currents. The rains are supposed to continue for two months. I have been told that if they in fact do continue, that we will see flooding similar to that of 2000 when roads were completely washed out and many landmines dislocated.
Today was a great day of classes. Since we were studying parts of speech, I introduced my students to Madlibs. It is a strange concept for them to do something so unorthodox and, frankly, silly. But I think a few chuckles eventually indicated that they were understanding the game. Although at the end of one class a boy raised his hand and said “I got it!” When I asked him what he said “I fixed the text, don’t worry!” and showed me a paragraph with all of the correct words filled in. We’ll work on it.
I introduced a game called “Changing Sentences” today, unsure as to how it would go over. You begin with a sentence, for example “The Philosophy teacher is tall,” and you can only change one word at a time, so it went from “the philosophy teacher is good” to “the philosophy teacher is fat.” The problem with students here is there is absolutely no concept of “thinking outside the box,” they are always taught to give the expected answer, so it is difficult to get them to be creative. I told the class that they needed to change a different word in the sentence, so one boy stood up and said “The English teacher is fat.” I guess I set myself up for that. But the rest of the students loudly disagreed and one boy offered “the English teacher is beautiful.” It’s basically like the game Telephone where you whisper in ears, because by the end the sentence has completely morphed into a different sentence. When we finished the first example I circled the first and last sentences (“I love English class” to “they buy good mangos”) and got a collective and enthusiastic “AHHH!” from the class. It was a bigger hit than I could have hoped. As all the students were leaving one boy said to me in English “That was wonderful class teacher!”

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