“Being a teacher in the camp is at times both challenging and exhausting, but most of all it’s rewarding. It’s a pleasure to see how proud they are when they finally nailed all the days of the week, or when they got a full score on their last test. The students are very committed to reach their goal; mastering the language. They will often come by and tell you about their latest achievements, even when it’s not in class! You might just have happened to pass by their caravan or they see you around camp.”
By: Mari Aronsen
At the camp in Skaramagas the NGO, A Drop in the Ocean offers several services for the residents. Among those services are the language classes in English and German. English classes are held on a daily basis, from level 1 – 7, and German 3 times a week, with level 1- 2.
We teach beginners, where we start with the very basic ABC, and it progresses to intermediate and experienced levels. The more advanced levels practice the language both written and orally, and also apply their skills to write Cover Letters, CV i.e. We as teachers provide them with the tools to use the language for communication in every day life, and it can also be beneficial when they enter the job market in the future.
The classes are primarily for adults; we have people of all ages from 18 to 60 years old. Due to their background and also at times lack of education, teaching can be a somewhat difficult task. The DIH teachers recently attended a free workshop at Kora Community Center about TEFL teaching. It was a great opportunity to learn from the lecturer Laura Patskos, and from other communities in Athens. I think we all went home feeling inspired, and also picked up a tip or two on how to solve different issues in the classroom.
As a teacher for people that may have limited, or in fact no education at all, you need to be creative and look for clever solutions to explain words and the system of the languages. Flashcards, movies, word games, student participation assignments i.e. are great ways of helping the students to practice the language and gain confidence in the classroom. It is always a victory to have your most quiet students speak up in class and feel confident doing it.
One of the things I really enjoy about TEFL- teaching is to see those who learned English in the camp, and have advanced to be translators and even volunteers themselves. They are a vital asset for the NGO’s, without them the communication to all the residents would be so much more difficult to carry out. This is a good example of how valuable these DIH language courses are, and what a difference it can make for the individual residents.