Brief Reflection: English Teaching in Fondjomékwet

April 25, 2013

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For the five months that we helped teach English at the Government High School of Fondjomékwet, there was no shortage of challenges to keep us on our toes or of chances to engage with a pocket of the Fondjo community.

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Seeking to provide assistance to the school’s sole English teacher, our principle role was acting as the visiting native English speakers who could engage in informal conversation with the students who wished to practice their speaking skills. We worked with two different classes, Forms 4th and 2nd (they follow the French system of education).

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The challenges came in a variety of forms, from maintaining “order” in the classroom to figuring out how to have a reading comprehension lesson when only one student has the text book. While Cameroon is a bilingual country, we soon realized that the English that we speak in the United States is far from the Cameroon English that is spoken in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon. “Pidgin,” or “Kam-tok,” is spoken by a majority of the population and is often confused by its speakers as British English, given its origin. It took us a while to point out the distinction in class, however, it was a good opportunity to explain the different variants of the English language. Our accents were an immediate barrier, as was our pace of speaking. It became immediately evident that we had to alter our manner of speaking in order to have an effective lesson.

All in all, it was wonderful to be able to connect with the students during our weekly visits. It was a positive exchange, and we even learned some of their village language, Nufi. We’re going to miss this picturesque and welcoming village. Until next time, Fondjomékwet! On est ensemble.

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