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Saying goodbye part 6 by Grace Castle

Then came the last afternoon of teaching. At Kurata Unity Primary School, we spent all three lessons playing games and singing with Grade 2,4 and 6. It was an emotional afternoon. The children were showering us with notes, drawings, presents and of course floods of tears. The most special things were the huge hugs we got. They had improved hugely and were beginning to understand what we were saying more and more - just as we had got to know their personalities more and more over the six weeks. To see children so excited and eager to learn was so incredible. There was not a day when they were fed up and not enjoying themselves, although maybe that was because they all loved us playing ‘heads down, thumbs up’ with them at the end of most lessons. Even in breaktimes, the younger children would be asking us how to say rhinoceros and other things on the posters that covered the walls. Meanwhile the older children would be having a conversation with us.

The lessons had consisted of a lot of repeating which meant that even by the end the Grade 2s, having been in school for just a year, would repeat everything that we said. When we pointed to a word on the board and said “what does this say” they would answer “what does this say”. It was the highlight of those lessons.

The main thing that we helped with was pronunciation. At Kurata, there had been no English teacher due to a lack of funding which made it difficult for us to know what level the children were at and what we should teach them. It turned out that the most important thing was how to say words. Their improvements were very good and we were all so grateful that we had been given the chance to witness and facilitate it.

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