Since we arrived in our host community (just 2 weeks ago!), our daily schedule has been: 9-1 Mongolian language lesson, lunch at home, 2:30-5:30 either TEFL or Cross Cultural training (except for Thursdays when we have the afternoon free). Evenings have been a mixture of hiking, movie nights at Steven’s, soccer, volleyball, or basketball in the park, group dinners on a rotating schedule (someone likened it to our host families arranging play-dates for their American kids), and study nights at home.
The TEFL training includes things we need to know in order to effectively teach English (such as lesson planning); I really appreciate this since my English-teaching experience has been more casual than formal. I’m sure this part is standard Peace Corps training regardless of site, whereas the Cross Cultural training is, of course, site specific. We learned a couple of Mongolian Games—Hozor is easily our favorite!—and presented Mongolian history and religion in small groups. This was our first chance to collaborate with our site-mates (there are 10 of us) and also our first chance to see one another as teachers, not just classmates.
The first micro-teaching experience was this Friday. We started by creating a lesson plan, not knowing the skill level of our students or the number of students we would have. (My understanding was that this was more for our benefit—a chance to get our sea-legs, if you will—than for our students’ benefit, though I’m sure they all walked away having learned something.) My partner Gwen and I taught clothing, specifically the phrase “I am wearing…” with appropriate vocabulary. That our 4 students participated was very encouraging! Since they were somewhat familiar with the material, we were able to incorporate colors and an additional game to make the 40-minute class.
Of note, I had assumed I would spend time distinguishing between the beginnings of SHIRT vs. SKIRT, but it turned out that the vowel was the trouble spot for our students—SHIRT/SKIRT came out as SHORT/SKORT. If you think that is strange, Mongolian has 4 letters devoted to what I think of as the “O”-sounds (think “pot” “book” “food” “told”), three of which I still can’t differentiate, making both reading and spelling certain words nearly impossible for me. Mercifully, Mongolian also has the “vowel-harmony” rule, meaning there are only a few combinations allowed, so if you get one of the “O”s the others will be the same!
BTW, each “O” in the game Hozor would be pronounced with the sound from “book.”
PS, more pictures added here.