Most students, especially the younger ones, studied English in high school. Almost all the students can communicate in English very well; their skills need to be sharpened. (If you took a foreign language in high school or college, how much do you remember? How successful would you be in a college-level environment in that language?)
This most recent trip started with putting students in one of three levels (beginner, intermediate, and advanced). We learned from previous experience that separating students based on ability allows students to be more successful.
On this trip, Victoria Bishop (previously in Rwanda in November 2020) has been doing exemplary work with the beginner students teaching them basic skills such as introductions and other conversational skills. The group has also read a good deal.
Wes Bishop (previously in Rwanda in May 2021) and Alison DeLong (previously in Rwanda in May 2019) have been working with the intermediate students covering nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and other parts of speech. The students have advanced to writing paragraphs. They have also engaged students in reading, summarizing, and conversation.
Dr. Tammy Bishop (previously in Rwanda in May 2021) taught the advanced group for the first week. Ivy Brothers (previously in Rwanda in May 2021 and January 2022) took over for the second and third weeks since Tammy had to return home for work. This group is the closest to taking the Duolingo Test. They have been reading and writing along with taking several practice tests. Many are nearly ready to take the actual test, and all students have improved their practice test scores.
Michael Pittman (first timer in Rwanda) taught computer skills the first week covering the basics of creating, saving, retrieving, and opening files. David Presley (previously in Rwanda in May 2021 and January 2022) took over in weeks two and three. David has also assisted in practice tests.
We were joined by two theology students from Hungary, who are first-time visitors to Rwanda, Nimród Selmeczi and Máté Csernus. They have worked with Tammy and Ivy’s group. They have engaged students in conversation and helped students with writing. They have been valuable because they are not native English speakers. That gives the team insight into how non-native speakers learn English.
Tammy had the idea of teaching English through basic songs. Since singing engages a different part of the brain, this would be another way to strengthen language skills. During the first week, Michael led the singing at the end of the day. Michael’s skills as a keyboardist and singer facilitated this. When Michael left, Máté stepped in with his skills on the keyboard. It was wonderful to see the students singing in English, building their language skills, but also singing praises to God.
Everyone on the team has said how much students have improved. Those of us who have been here before have noticed long-term improvement. This is especially the case with Eric and Jules. In the last year and a half, both have made great strides in their English skills. Even in the short term over the past couple of weeks, we have noticed growth in English skills.
We need more workers willing to help. While many of those who have come are educators, you don’t need to be an educator to come and teach. Tammy has prepared packets of lessons to assist teachers in teaching and learners in learning.
Please continue to pray for this endeavor as students wrap up the three-week training that they would continue to improve their skills. The need is great, both for English skills but also for legal pastors. As Matthew recorded, “Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’” (Matthew 9:37-38).