Sokheang currently teaches English lessons through the evening with the occasional invitation for me to help wth “Conversational English“. It’s one thing to know how to pronounce nouns, verbs etc but to string them together into a coherent sentence can be tricky even if you were raised speaking English as your first language. We will have to watch out, or we’ll have a whole generation of English Speaking Khmer with Aussie Accents !
At a recent Teacher meeting upon asking what extra we can do, the one thing that seemed to rank highest was extra English lessons for the younger children from age 7, to allow the one hour of English a week the students receive at public school to be extended. A quick head count with the villagers had 25 interested before we had started, the enthusiasm for education is astounding after coming from the West.
Why English ? Like it or not it’s the most recognised international language, most non native English speaking countries often have English as their second language and it is the standard language for Science worldwide. Learning English also offers the Khmers a way to a better life by allowing them entry to higher paid jobs in tourism, hospitality etc where fluency in English is an inevitable requirement as well as attendance at University and any post graduate jobs nearly always requiring fluency in English. While it’s important for the local Khmers to protect and continue to use there native language, you have to recognise that outside Cambodia it’s hardly used at all. There’s also numerous studies showing learning a second language helps boost cognitive abilites in other areas.
With that in mind we were able to approach HtCC to see if we could fund the extended classes. Unfortunately with the increase in the Center’s costs (increased rent etc) HtCC could only commit to $18 a month, a new, qualified teacher was going to cost us $50 a month. Help Camboida kindly came to the rescue with the extra $32 a month ($384 a year), with a one year commitment. With that in mind Htcc were able to give the go ahead to expand the curriculum and we’re excited to be able to get new English classes organised.