Teaching English

On Wednesday, I got to be the guest teacher for the Primary Five English class. The headmaster asked me to tell a story, and then ask questions to test their comprehension. I only had about an hour to prepare, in the midst of interviewing students and eating lunch, so I decided to tell an adapted version of Little Red Riding Hood. When I finished, though, they didn’t think I should be finished yet, and asked me to tell another one. It’s hard to say “no” when there is a class full of wide eyes and expectant smiles. So I told the story of Jack and the Beanstalk, again adapting some of the details so they could relate to it more. It was hugely fun–seeing their intent eyes and hearing their gasps or giggles made it easy to get into character as the cunning lion or as the old, hobbling man who sold the beans to Jack.

At the end, I was also supposed to have a lesson, a moral they could draw from the story. With the first story, it was easy: the wolves (or in this case, lions) of this world can hide in a friendly guise, so it discernment is hugely important. But the second story, since I basically pulled it out of my ear on the spot, was a little harder. In the version I told, the golden goose begged Jack to rescue her from the giant, because the giant would beat her and take all her eggs. So I came up with the lesson that it is not good to beat those who are close to us, that husbands should not beat their wives, but instead treat them with kindness and respect, which will help to build a happy home.

It’s strange even to say that: “Don’t beat your wives.” And as a single woman, I don’t know how much of a difference my advice could make. But the headmaster has already asked me to have stories prepared for the next time, and the next day, students from other classes would come up and tell me, “You will also teach us English!” Being an English teacher was hardly a part of my plans, but hey, this is Africa! 🙂


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