Sunday, March 28, 2010

And Along Comes the Learning Experience...

We’re all sitting around inside of a little wooden house, the doors are open and there are slats between the wooden planks to let in the light, and we have six students ready to learn to read.

After all these years of training others to teach someone to read, we’d finally set out to do it ourselves and get the experience so we can be better trainers. The day had finally come, like a dream come true, and our non-reading students were gathered there waiting to be taught, and we were ready! (at least we thought so).

“Well, do you wanna start, Emily?” – T

“Uhh…sure…with step one?” – E

Tedd smiles, “I guess so,” and sort of giggled, knowing that this was a big moment for us…

“Okay…step one then…” – E

We've been in Nicaragua 4 weeks today...

We came to gain experience in two distinct areas 1. Spanish Literacy Classes & 2. English Classes

Thanks to God, we now have 25 students who meet in our home three times a week in three different classes for English classes. The English books have spiritual discussion topics and Bible stories, and we hope to make friends and build trust to share more about the Lord while we're here.

Tedd practices pronunciation one-on-one

Demonstrating a typical greeting. Go team!

One English class is 80% kiddos - they're so fun!

Ev (my brother) helped out with the first two classes! He did great!

We also have a Spanish literacy class going in a nearby village with two more classes pending. (Note: this is completely separate from the English classes).

Wow. I never fathomed how exciting it is to teach someone to read for the first time!!!

Here, Ev helps me teach step two.

Seriously folks, yesterday I had the honor of teaching three adult women how to write their names for the first time ever. Can you imagine?? They didn't know how their names even looked in written form. As I wrote "Inez," "Zocorro," and "Mirian," they started copying the letters into their notebooks...the letters that formed their names!

what a thrill!

These ladies started from nothing three classes ago, some knew the alphabet and that's it, others knew zero. Now, all thanks to God, they're reading syllables like "da, la, lana, ana, de, le, lola, nena..."

Some were having major issues the first week. We asked, "What is this?" (holding up the word "lana,") and the student would guess something like "a." We gently corrected as we'd been taught, "This is 'lana,' please repeat 'lana.'" "Lana," she repeated. "Good. So what is this?" (reviewing the same "lana" card...) "na," they would guess. Oh no!

Tedd and I laughed with bewilderment on the bus home..."what are we going to do with the ones who aren't getting it at all?" We felt discouraged, confused, and dependent on God. We prayed. We wrote emails to the pros for advice. We brainstormed.

Whaddaya know. Class 2. They'd been practicing at home, the smart ones with the clueless ones, and there was MAJOR improvement! It was almost supernatural how much better they did.

Tedd told them "this letter," (pointing to the d) "is pregnant." "And this one," (pointing to the l) "is not." They all giggled like little children...and it clicked.

(sorry I don't have more pictures to add at this point. We've tried to be careful not to whip out the camera since we're working in a poor church, plus they may feel embarrassed that we're taking pictures of them learning to read...when there's more trust we'll take lots of pics, Lord willing!)

Wow! Praise the Lord! He's the One who gives them the intelligence and the motivation they need to learn to read His precious Word!

Class #3 they were reading and writing small phrases...we're totally pumped! One is still slow, but we're praying that neither we nor she will give up and that the Lord will give her the ability to read the Bible...I believe He will.

So the learning experience so far:
  • Traveling to classes by foot and by bus takes time, wastes time, and saps your energy. We're praying about other options. We're also relating to literacy workers around the world who don't have good means of transportation and have jobs to do outside of literacy ministry (in our case, English classes and domestic tasks).
  • Students show up late. Some don't show. Some get Dengue.
  • Rainy season is nearing and we're expecting many new obstacles.
  • The Pre-Reading exercise in the primer is super important.
  • When the pastor gets behind you, the students stay motivated!
  • You have to pray that God will help your students learn. It's encouraging to know that it's God's will for us to read His Word, so we can pray according to His will on behalf of our students.
  • Some students have never been in a formal learning environment ever in their lives.
  • Teaching someone to read and write in their heart language is AMAZING!!
  • Teaching someone English is fun and a great way to make friends.
  • Some literacy students have to walk for an hour to class.
  • It's hard to find others who are willing to teach reading/writing & volunteer their time.
  • Scheduling is tough. They want to wait 'til evening because they work during the day, but they won't come in the evening because "it's too dark and late." Hmmm....

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