Taking Our Classes To The Wireless

 

When the pandemic closed our schools, we decided to try our hand at teaching English on Rwanda radio. Using our New Original English Course Books (NOEC, shown below) But the success of teaching English as a foreign language relies heavily on the pupils seeing things, and seeing things being done, in order for them to understand the meaning. We always say that they have to see the meaning.

 

My task for the radio was to ensure that the pupils could ‘hear’ the meaning. I had to think of objects that make clear, identifiable sounds. For instance, I have used a box, a tin, a ball, a book, and a piece of paper. These are items whose sound when touched, bounced or fanned, as the case may be, convey what they are. 

 

I then needed another voice, to take the part of the pupil. I called on my Tanzanian friend Joe. I asked him to come with a pair of proper shoes and not trainers. He had no idea what I really meant and so came with a full suit and tie, and his proper shoes! 

 

My sitting room has a wooden floor, and we rolled up the rug, put a chair in the middle and that was Joe’s base. With his shoes he could then be clearly heard moving in response to commands, ‘Come here’, or ‘Go the door’ etc.  Needless to say, Joe never wore his suit, and performed throughout in his track suit with his smart leather shoes underneath!  Joe is not a well-known name in Rwanda, but Joseph is. So, in all our recordings, Joe became Joseph.

 

----->>> Listen to one of our first radio broadcasts, by clicking the player below. 

 

The script for each programme was about 5 pages. Joe’s parts were in bold type and mine in non-bold type. I sat at the table, with the iPad ready to record on Voice Recorder. We had the various props arranged on the table in the order in which we needed to use them. My script was flat on the table in front of me. I realized that Joe would be moving around with his script, and so we stuck each page on a piece of cardboard so that not only would it stay firm but also wouldn’t make a noise as he went from page to page. There were times when it was easier for me to deal with the props whilst Joe read the script. At other times Joe had to manipulate the props with the script, such as, “I’m opening the window”, “I’m brushing my teeth” or “I’m playing football”.

 

I never worked out how to edit anything we’d recorded. I could pause during recording and start up again, but if we made a mistake we’d just have to start all over again. Apple’s Voice Recorder shows you the minutes and seconds as you record. That made the end of every script very stressful, as I’d have to judge whether we’d finish the script in time, or whether I’d need to cut out a bit. I’d have to assess that we would have time at the end for a quick summary of what we’d done and to say ‘goodbye’.

 

When we recorded our second programme, Joe, seeing the same objects on the table again, asked with some incredulity, “Oh, are we opening the box again?”. Little could he have known just how often he would open the box, shut the box, put the box on the table, put the box on the chair, put the bottles in the box, or put the tin on the box. After we’d recorded all the programmes he took the box out to the rubbish shed with a spring in his step!

 

----->>> Listen to one of our first radio broadcasts, by clicking the player below. 

 

 

The end of each recording was a noted achievement. We’d then paste the next script pages on top of the others on Joe’s cardboard pieces. There was a low point, when we’d recorded three programmes, opening each with, “Good afternoon” as our slot on the radio was first to have been 2pm, and then came the news that the better slot of 11am had been secured.This required us to record the first three programmes all over again. Lesson learned. After this experience, we began every recording with a cheery “Hello.”

 

Whilst the programmes is broadcast nationally, I designed them for the pupils who are in our project schools. The aim overall is for the pupils to hear some English again and to revise what they had already learned. It is hoped that they speak English by following and talking with some of Joe’s part of the script. If they learn something new, then that is an added bonus.

 

We anticipate, of course, that all other pupils who listen to the radio will benefit from the programmes. The programmes also provide the added bonus for teachers to hear English with native pronunciation and intonation. It might also be the first time in a while that the teachers have been on the receiving end, and they will feel again what it’s like to learn by listening, and how much repetition is needed in a foreign language.

 

----->>> Listen to one of our first radio broadcasts, by clicking the player below. 

 

 

Production Notes on the Video Below

 

We added surtitles and subtitles to the video to help explain what you’re seeing. Where you see ‘SPER,’ this refers to us. In Rwanda, our project is called Support to Primary Education Rwanda, or SPER for short. Education East Africa is SPER.

 

In the first half of the video we’re observing the class before introducing The New Original English Course (NOEC) This is how most primary school pupils are taught English in Africa. In the second half of the video, you will see the teachers and pupils using our NOEC books, with accompanying wall charts. Notice how much easier it is for everyone when there’s a real life connection with the words they are asked to learn. This is why we are desperate to get NOEC into every primary school in Rwanda. 

 

As with all charities, our greatest need is financial. If you would like to remember a favourite teacher or pupil by contributing to our work, PayPal Giving Fund will pass on 100% of your donation to us. There are no transaction fees when you choose this option. For other ways to give, please see below. We are grateful for your enthusiasm and support.  

  

 

 

Katy on Rwanda TV

 

 

Katy talks about our work in Rwanda's primary schools with broadcast journalist Fiona Mbabazi. 

 

 

 

We Bring The Classroom To You

 

 

The video below takes you into the classrooms of two of our government primary schools in Rwanda. Here you will see pupils in Primary 1, 2 and 3 learning English with their enthusiastic teachers. This is a tremendous accomplishment, illustrating the effectiveness of our NOEC books. No other English programme prepares the next generation for participation in the global economy better than this.

 

We host a substantial library of videos, we make ourselves, with Vimeo. Please feel free to share our work in Rwanda and Tanzania by following this link

 

 

 

 

Together We Can Change This Story

 

 

Take a look at a typical school (below) NOT using our NOEC Books. This video was taken near the end of the 2019 school year. There are short clips from each of Primary 1, Primary 2, Primary 3 and Primary 4.  In all classes there is very little participation or use of English by the pupils. In Primary 4, English is no longer just a subject but it is the medium of instruction for all lessons (in theory!). In the Primary 4 class filmed here, no pupil says a complete, correct sentence. 

 

It's not the pupils fault. It's not the teachers fault. They have not been given the tools and training required to learn English with our NOEC books. 

 

Remember A Favourite Teacher 

 

 

 

You will find our extensive video library, hosted on Vimeo, HERE. As with all charities, our greatest need is financial. If you would like to remember a favourite teacher or pupil by contributing to our work, PayPal Giving Fund will pass on 100% of your donation to us. There are no transaction fees when you choose this option. For other ways to give, please see below. We are grateful for your enthusiasm and support.  

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Rwanda

250 (0)782 369 540 

Katy(at)EducationEastAfrica(dot)org

PO Box 2962, Kigali Rwanda

Rwanda No134/RGB/NGO/LP/09/2017

 

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