Originally written on September 13:
I entered my very first Tongan Primary School today. The eagerness of Tongan students cannot be matched. Not in my five years of teaching have I seen such an enthusiasm for learning … and it doesn’t matter the subject. These students are bright and excited and just want to soak up knowledge. It got me very excited to finally have my own classroom here – teaching English. The majority of my time was spent in Class 2 (mostly students who are 7). The teacher who led the class let the palangis take over for a little bit. We drew a map of the United States and talked about (in broken Tonglish) where we were from (I talked about cheese and cows which was met with a lot of laughing.). Then we taught the students how to introduce themselves in English (In primary schools in Tongan students don’t begin learning English until Class 3). I had a group of 6 kids (though there were well over 30 students in Class 2) and here is how the interaction went:
Me: Malo e leilei (which means hello in Tongan).
Students: Malo e leilei.
Me: Malo e leilei i Inglisi te lea “Hello!” (waves hand). Hello in English you say “Hello!”
Me: Ko hoku hingoa ko ‘Amenita i Inglisi: “My name is Amanda.” Oku te lea… (Now you say…)
Students: My name is Amanda.
Derp. We eventually got it right. They were each able to introduce themselves to one another and even handshake/high five/fist pound at the end.