Friday, October 5, 2012

The Day My Midwestern Accent Prevented Me from Effectively Teaching 8-year-olds

Today I put on my kiekie and went over to Fatumu's Primary School to teach my very first hour-long English class. I'd been looking forward to today since getting my Peace Corps Invitation Letter back in July.


The subject was poetry. I taught in Class 4 - Kalasi Fa - which means that I taught 8-year-olds. This is their second year of English instruction (last year being only oral English instruction). We created shape poems that had to do with the sun. I was impressed with the English vocabulary that these 8-year-olds already had. The lesson went pretty smoothly aside from being a bit nervous at the beginning which translated into rushing through a few things that I could have spent more time on.

One highlight (or lowlight depending on your mood) that I experienced happened about midway through class. The students and I were compiling a list of words that describe the sun so that we could eventually take the word list and turn it into a shape poem. The students came up with hot and bright and light and then they saw the word warm on the board. I pointed to it and said it and asked them (in Tongan) to repeat after me.

Only they didn't say warm.

Instead they said "worm". Convinced that they had heard me wrong, I made them say it over and over and over and over again

... and realized that it was due to my Midwestern accent that these students were not saying warm.
I couldn't fix it either. No matter how much I tried to take out the hard "arrrr" pirate sound from the word I couldn't.

So now a group of 8-year-olds in Tonga sound like they belong in the movie Fargo. Definitely not the intent of today's lesson, but at least they'll sound cool. Right?


This is the building that Class 4 and Class 1 are housed in.


The gate to the school. Students are dismissed to go home and eat lunch from 12:30-1:30pm everyday.


Here I am (with Mark) in my kiekie which is the belt-ish thing around my waist - Una lent it to me. It's made of coconut leaves and cloth. They are quite comfortable and are the women's version of a necktie here in Tonga. Even though it looks like pants, I'm actually also wearing a tupenu (long skirt).

1 comment:

  1. LOL re: warm. I also just read it out loud to my boyfriend and he also found it hilarious. :)