Patience is needed in classroom

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–Brian Wraight, USA 

Teaching Intern 

 

When I came to Nepal I had never stood in front of a class and tried to teach before. For those of you in the same situation fear not. That's not to say teaching is easy (you quickly learn how difficult it is not only to create your own lesson, but to teach that lesson in a clear and effective manner) but it is not necessary that you have teaching experience in order to volunteer for Internship Nepal's teaching program. For those of you with teaching experience, you know that one of the best attributes you can possess in the classroom is patience—a lot of patience. In a Nepalese classroom, you'll need twice as much patience.

If you are going to be teaching in a village you must always keep in mind that these kids can barely speak/understand English. You will have to teach on the most fundamental level. Choose your words very carefully. Be as economical and straight-forward as possible with your speech. And most importantly, speak slowly. If you think you already are speaking slowly, slow it down some more. And if you're from America be prepared for some added confusion from the students because their text books teach them British English. Also, you will find that the younger students in the village are rather unruly. Though I could never bring myself to do it, it is perfectly acceptable to give them a little smack on the back if they can't shut their traps. Without this discipline for the younger classes it will be next to impossible to get them to listen to what you’re saying. As for the older classes, they are generally attentive but, if they do get a little out of hand, raising your voice will be sufficient enough to get them to settle down.

If you are going to be teaching in Kathmandu or another of Nepal's major cities it should be significantly easier for you. After teaching in the village for 2 months, I taught in Kathmandu for a few weeks and it felt like I was on vacation. I could speak at my normal pace, whereas in the village I could barely speak in complete sentences. And in Kathmandu the younger kids actually listened to me. Furthermore, corporal punishment is not only unnecessary in Kathmandu but, at least at the school at which I was teaching, it is against school policy. So if you're looking to start from the bottom and work your way up with students, go to the village. But if you'd like to teach on a higher level and have an easier time doing it, then stay in an urban area.

While it might sound like I'm promoting the teaching experience in Kathmandu I should be fair to the village at which I taught. If I had it to do all over again I would, without a doubt in my mind, go to the village. I say this because life in the village has, in my opinion, so much more to offer culturally than life in Kathmandu. And to be honest, I don't think I'll look back on my experience here and think primarily of my time in the classroom. Certainly I'll remember all of my students, but at some point I realized that teaching takes a back seat to connecting with these kids outside of the classroom, spending time with them, making them laugh, and experiencing their way of life. At the end of my time in the village I realized that the kids had taught me more than I could have ever taught them. I know that sounds a little corny (okay, A LOT corny) but it's true. Living in the village really does affect you in a way that Kathmandu is incapable of. So even though it's ten times harder to actually teach in the village, and granted that it takes a little while to adjust to living conditions in the village (just bring a flashlight for those late-night diarrhea dashes to the outhouse and you'll be all set) it's definitely a more worthwhile experience. But that's just my opinion.
E-mail: wraightb@yahoo.com