Bootcamp Blog 7 – Ella Donaldson

Posted by on Feb 7, 2013 in English Boot Camp 2013 | 1 comment

Started the day with breakfast watching the red sun rise over the Mekong River. Breakfast consisting of a fresh baguette and two eggs all for one dollar -  as the days progress I can see myself adapting more and more to life in Kampong Cham. After breakfast it’s time to saddle up on my bike and head to school. Today I took the route along the river passing a beautiful temple ornately decorated in bright reds and gold, pop up stalls selling sugar cane and coconut drinks by the road and locals gathered together for a morning chat. It seems wherever you go in Cambodia, whether outside their shops, businesses or on the street the locals will sit together and talk all day.


Once I arrive at MSK Library, it’s time to gather my class and begin the lesson. This morning I started each groups’ lesson with a warm up song I learnt in my National Youth Theatre training. The song is called, ‘Shake Your Body’, and involves doing exactly that. I taught the warm up to all the groups, however most weren’t quite getting the words or rhythm correctly, but they all thoroughly enjoyed it by the looks of things, especially when they had to ‘shake, shake, shake!’ Little did I know at the time, that this warm up was to become the catchphrase of my classes and when I was greeted by the teachers in between lessons many of them would just laugh and say, ‘Shake shake shake!’


When planning lessons, myself and John have had to adapt or come up with alternatives for Group D as the majority of the class barely speak English. However what they lack in actual English, they do not lack in enthusiasm or the desire to learn. One teacher in particular represents these qualities and despite being the oldest out of all the teachers at Boot Camp, he throws himself into every task or warm up we do, no matter how much silliness or shaking involved. His willingness to participate and just go for it attitude is so refreshing to see not only at his age but as a comparison to home in London where I feel a lot of people are reserved and are afraid to do anything out of their comfort zone for what others may think.


For today’s class, we focused on teaching through song. For Group D we taught them the ‘Counting Fish Song’ for teaching numbers and actions and ‘The Rainbow Song’, to teach the colours of the rainbow. Then for groups A,B and C we looked at the song ‘Happy Talk’. After having learnt the lyrics and getting the class to sing without myself and John, we then taught the teachers about singing in canon. This proved for some groups harder than others, as some forgot which part they were singing and joined in with another group or others found it difficult having to sing a different part to the person next to them. However after a few practices each group were singing harmoniously in canon. The objective of teaching songs to the groups was to explain to them how teaching through song can be enjoyable for their students as well as being an easy way to remember things.


For the last lesson of the day we have conversation sessions, with the teachers splitting into small groups between the Boot Camp teachers. Although in each session we are supposed to go by a theme agreed by the rest of the Boot Camp teachers, most of us tend to go off topic to get more of a discussion going. Today with one group we spoke about dance and once I’d mentioned my previous ballet training, I was immediately being asked to demonstrate some of my moves – definitely felt the pressure as I hadn’t been to class for about a month and a half. One small, slightly off balance pirouette complete and I had earned the status of Margot Fontaine. I was then having a lesson for beginners in traditional Kamir dance, which involves very delicate gestures with the hands and proved a lot harder than it looked.


With my next group, I asked about what super powers they would have. With the conversation groups being a mix of all abilities I had to give a quick explanation of super powers and discuss Spiderman for a few minutes until they understood exactly what I was asking. The question sparked some good answers, with a few teachers wanting the ability to fly so they could travel the world – with a bonus of no expense or passport needed I added. Another teacher wanted to be a Super Businessman, having the power of fantastic financial knowledge in order to make Cambodia the richest country in the world. Whilst my favourite answer, was from one of the women who wanted the power to be a Super Chef so that she could make anything she wanted in a second so that she could spend the rest of her time relaxing. As well as this in our conversation sessions on a few occasions, one of the teachers has asked the question back to me and I’ve noticed that sometimes the teachers just want to hear you speak.


After another day of teaching it’s time to head back to my hotel room and collapse onto my bed before dinner as I’m exhausted – must be all that shaking.



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