Much of my life’s routines and schedules have been formed around the school year calendar (Sept.-June), first as a student myself, then as a teacher and a parent. It is still the same, just a different calendar. Nothing in our current equatorial environment says, “fall”, the traditional time for school to begin in my experience, but nonetheless a new semester is underway.
The academic year at HAU runs from January thru November, in two semesters (Jan-May and Aug.-Nov. roughly). Due to the large drop in student numbers this year I did not teach any courses during the 1st semester but now I seem to be the only teacher teaching English as a foreign language. I have two classes (50 and 55 students) for English 2. I’m also teaching a course called Integration of Speaking and Listening in English to a small class of three students who are second year Education majors. They are delightful!
English 2 is a course for learning academic writing in English. Like many new college students most don’t know much about the language of academic writing. Many have not learned how to write a logical, cohesive essay in French (the language of business and education in Burundi), but now I am trying to instruct to do it in English. It is a challenge to say the least! Further complicated by the many African realities of: lack of desks, decent blackboards, new students joining week 5 out of 11 and the extremely limited understanding of plagiarism as “stealing” or unacceptable
Realistically, it is difficult to know who or how many of these students will need to be proficient English writers for their future. My goal is to teach them how to write a well-developed 5-paragraph essay, preferably in English, but with principals they could apply in any language so they will be equipped to share their stories and ideas with others. I have nothing but sympathy for their struggle to learn a new language due to my own language learning experience and for most it is their third or fourth language. I feel privileged to give them tools that may help their futures and I am glad to be teaching again, to be with students who are eager, hard-working and have a future hope.