Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Today after an exam two students came up to me and asked me in English “teacher: ‘my sister and her husband has’ or ‘my sister and her husband have?’” “Have” I responded. “HAHA!” one of the boys exclaimed and punched the other one in the arm. If only I could get all of my students to be that inquisitive and excited about English.
Last Friday we played Jeopardy in class, since it was the last class before exams, so I didn’t want to teach any new material. For those of you who have been reading since the beginning, it was the same Jeopardy game I tried with my eighth graders last year (the one that multiple Mozambicans adamantly claimed was at an 8th grade level and the students should know the material. This was before I understood that people here will often say what you want to hear or what they want to believe, whether or not it’s true). If you remember, it failed MISERABLY last year. So I tried again, the same questions but with eleventh graders, and in English. They loved it. The game was a huge success. Not surprisingly I wasn’t able to get everyone to participate, but a couple students (even girls!) participated who have rarely spoken all year. For one of the classes, my colleague who I had asked to cover my classes for me while I was gone hadn’t known I was back, so he came a class period early and gave a lesson. The Jeopardy game took two periods (each class had a double period on Friday) but I didn’t want to make this class stay for three periods. So after the second period I told them they could leave. Instead, most of the class said “no teacher! Let’s play!” So I told them whoever wanted to come back after the break could continue to play, and about ¾ of the class returned. The answers weren’t as flagrantly and tragically wrong as they had been last year—thank goodness. One question was “what country originally colonized the United States of America?” When the boy answered incorrectly, another boy said “really?? Come on, what language do they speak in America?!?” I like his critical thinking. Another question was, “who is the president of the USA?” Before Friday, I would have been confident saying that every man, woman, and child in Africa knew the answer to this one. Many times people here refer to Obama as “our president.” But this particular boy didn’t know—his answer was “Akon.” The answer to another question was Michael Jackson. Because the boy answered so enthusiastically, I jokingly asked him if he could dance like Michael Jackson. Before I knew it, he was up in the front of the classroom with sunglasses and a hat on, shirt tucked into very high pants, and busting a move.

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