Shy Words and Rollercoasters - Teaching English at Kalapuan Island

Sheau Peng in the Classroom
Sundays at TRACC include a short boat ride to the neighboring island of Kalapuan to teach English, basic science, and a bit about recycling in an effort to clean up the island and prepare the next generation to be active stewards of their island and environment.

Sheau Peng a TRACC volunteer and Marine Science A-level student stands in the front of the open classroom in front of about 50 young village children and writes the lesson on the black board. Today the children learn three letters, A, B, C, and three words from each letter, as well as a short and helpful English phrase. “Good Morning, My Name is ____. I am a Girl/Boy”.  The children actively and attentively write down each letter and word Peng writes on the blackboard, careful to be sure each letter and word is perfectly written.

TRACC Volunteer Liam Working the "Rollercoaster"
When the time comes for Peng to ask the children to stand up and speak their new phrase, a few brave students rise and proudly use their new words. Yet when Peng walks to a side of the room to ask a particular student to use the phrase, the rest of the students quickly scuttle to the opposite side, shyly, but happily, avoiding being called on. The lesson moves on and the students learn a little about health and nutrition, and separating glass, plastic, and metal for recycling, before being sent out into the village, garbage bags in tow, to practice their new skills and collect plastic bottles for recycling.

After the lesson Peng and a few other TRACC Volunteers and A-level students are led to the other side of the island by the group of happy students to explore the tide pools and see the “rollercoaster” (the swing crafted from rope and a section of an old rubber tire and strung high between two trees). As we walk, the children so shy in the classroom, excitedly test their new words and shout “Good Morning. My name is _____. I am a Girl/Boy” up and down the path.
Kalapuan from the Boat

Peng, sums it up best as we walk back to the boat to return to Pom-Pom Island – “It’s so satisfying to see the children already using their English words” – and I see exactly what she means. The peaceful village is filled with bright happy voices and the intelligent and observing faces of children learning skills that will provide them with wider opportunities in the future. 

If you want to help with teaching or any marine conservation activity, please check our website or e-mail info@tracc-borneo.org

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