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English Club in Chitwan – A Fun Approach to Learning!

Picture books are a favouriteAn English club is held every Friday in Chitwan at an all girl’s children’s home, called Sri Sathaya Sai Balashraman. The children who live there go to school during the day but live at the home either because they no longer have parents, or because their parents are unable to look after them. The English club was set up for various reasons.

The club was aimed at inspiring the children to develop a passion for reading. Children who read in their spare time often attain higher grades at school. Therefore, without this club the children would rarely get a chance to read story books. The children are split into groups according to ability and each group gets a book to read together. The books range from picture books with a few words in big print for the younger children, to more challenging fiction for the more advanced readers.

Most groups have two or three children and one volunteer. The role of the volunteer is to help the children read the book, rather than to read the book to the children. The aim is for the children to learn and gain confidence, so as the children read the story aloud, the volunteer helps with the pronunciation of difficult words. They also ask questions about the characters along the way to make sure the children understand the words and are not just sounding out the letters. It’s evident that the children love reading the story books and they often do not want to give them up when reading time ends.

Another goal of the English club is to help develop a creative streak within the children. The Nepali education system tends to focus on the repetition method of learning, but this leaves little time for children to learn how to think for themselves. The final activity of the session is designed to give the children the opportunity to work on these skills.

Recently, the children were asked to use the crayons and pencils provided by Projects Abroad to draw a princess and there were some very interesting results! They will draw a castle and later on a dragon and every week the child’s creation will be filed in their personal portfolio. Once the three drawings are complete they will be asked to write a story about the princess, castle and dragon and we look forward to some creative stories.

Helping children to enjoy readingThe English language has become important in Nepal, with tourism being the largest industry. The club gives the children a chance to practise their English every week with people from all over the world. Some weeks there are four or five foreign nationalities and this gives the children a chance to find out about other cultures.

The programme lasts about two hours and is broken up by songs, games and snack time to help the children maintain concentration and it also helps to create a fun atmosphere. Reading should be seen as something pleasurable, rather than a chore.

The children’s favourite song is probably Bananas Unite, which involves hand-gestures and dancing as well as singing. All the children and volunteers gather in a circle outside and do the activity together and it’s a fun atmosphere! Team games like Mr. Wolf and Telephone are also played outside and you can’t help but notice how wide the children smile and jump for joy when their team wins!  

Care volunteers are involved in planning and leading the English club and it wouldn’t be possible without their enthusiasm. Regular volunteers are also able to help by joining in with games and songs and taking a group of children for the reading section and final activity. The club is enjoyed by volunteers, children and staff alike. 

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