7-26 Teaching in three languages

There are three official languages in this country.  English, French, and Bislama.  I use all three in my teaching.  It’s… exciting.

I’m in a French school.  The kids at least nominally speak French.  I don’t.  The kids start learning English in 7th grade.  They don’t speak it very well. 
I end up teaching primarily in Bislama.  Unfortunately, Bislama is incredibly non-specific.  It does not contain technical vocabulary.  This means that all the computer words are either in French or English.  So I use those.  The words in English are easy for me, hard for the students.
I have, however, picked up some words in French.  Clavier is keyboard, souris is mouse, etc.  My pronunciation is terrible and I often get corrected by the students.  Eventually, I get it down and we all move on.
The language difficulties do provide some amusement.  Last week I was doing some lessons on using an electronic encyclopedia (I’m teaching them “google fu” via encyclopedias in preparation for the internet.)  I was working on this by coming up with questions for them to search for.  The questions were largely in Bislama but things like country names are different in French.  This means that on each question I would write the English and then look over the kids shoulders until they found the French, then correct it.  This kind of thing is pretty normal for my classes.

The community classes are even more difficult.  Some people schooled French.  Some schooled English.  Some people remember their school language well.  Some not so much.  Some are literate, some are not.  This on top of an already multi-level class in terms of computer skill.

I’m getting very good at describing things in at least three ways.  This goes to the flexibility that I am gaining from my Peace Corps experience.  As frustrating as it can be now, I do believe that it will benefit me in the long run.

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