The English classes have attained a routine, and while it took longer than I expected to get the advanced students to come to class, I’m very happy with the progress we’ve made so far. A lot of time was also spent figuring out the students’ comprehension levels, especially the advanced students, because advanced level English students still have a hard time understanding what Americans say. At first, I tried to go through an American song with the advanced students, but it was too hard to understand. We finally hit a rhythm in the advanced class when we started playing improvisation games that have flexible vocabulary requirements. A favorite is the game “What are you doing?”, in which the participants only have to have the vocabulary to name any activity with no repeats, getting harder and harder as the game goes on.
In the beginner class, the students have been getting better at participating in class, but I hope they will get more involved in their other classes, too. We went over colors in our last class, and some students knew the vocabulary well enough to teach the others. I’m always impressed at how they’ll help their classmates to get the right answers. We normally go over a new word, break down the sounds that go into that word, repeat it together as a class and then one by one, and then go over the hard parts of the word again. I learned that we need to review our vocabulary frequently in class, or the students will forget what we went over, and will pronounce all of the words the way they used to. All in all, I think that the most important part of my classes has been to try to get the students excited about learning English, and that’s what I’ve succeeded best at in the beginner classes.
Club Dynamique had a presentation of our two sketches for the whole village, and the members amazed everyone, including me, with their style and confidence while performing. One thing that concerned me during the process of preparing the sketches was that no one was rehearsing with their entrances, exits, or movements; the rehearsals were more about repeating the lines for memorization than about having everything exactly ready to be acted out. Later, I realized that it was likely that no one had explained the process of acting, although they were very well prepared to present in front of a crowd. During one of the rehearsals when Cyril wasn’t there (I was pleased that towards the end of the summer, Cyril left me to manage the meetings by myself or with help from Théo), I gave the students instructions of when to move where. I didn’t do a very good job of explaining why it was important, and they were confused as to why I was insisting on changing the normal order of the rehearsals. But they agreed to the movements, and I think the performance turned out better because of it. The students were shining through the sketches, and the audience was roaring their enthusiasm back at the club. It was amazing to see that, despite everything I wish I had said, the students were the ones who knew best what to do. Nothing makes me want to stay here in Farendé more than the prospect of making an even better performance with the Club Dynamique after what I’ve learned this summer.