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A Trip To Diego  University

This week 4 Frontier staff, 2 translators, and I (the lonely volunteer) paid a visit to the University of Antisiranana to teach English and Science. After a day of travel we made it to the university in time for a much needed dinner. The following morning we started our day with meetings with the English department and a Marine Biology professor to plan our teaching schedule, share ideas, and work out formalities to continue Frontier's ongoing relationship with the university.

After a few hours we went out to town for lunch and to prepare our first lesson plans knowing we'd have a busy week ahead of us. I spent my next morning along with Adam and Achim giving a lesson to second year masters students in Marine Biology about marine ecosystems, and the problems facing them today, with a focus towards tour guiding. After our successful science lesson, the rest of the week was all English classes. We held 2 hour classes with about 3 classes a day to all level students.

For some of the classes we taught the professors would be there to help, mostly explaining our activities we had planned. The classes usually had about 20 to 30 students, and in my experience were run more like a high school class rather than the typical university lecture. But unlike my school experiences the students there actually wanted to learn. The students were very interactive and eager to learn, they listened intently and never gave us a problem. It made teaching quite easy. The hardest obstacle to overcome was the language barrier, we could only teach in English (as our French is poor to say the least) and we didn't always have a translator with us. But if we talked slowly and clearly enough they could understand just about everything we said.

The lessons i gave were to year 1 students and covered topics like going to a shop, penfriend letters, vocabulary, grammar, introductions, and comprehending a short story. I really enjoyed my week here teaching and I think it was one of the most rewarding experiences I've had during my time with Frontier. The students seemed very greatful for our time their, as I was for theirs. The only thing I would have changed was to not get stranded by a taxi brousse for 2 days in a row.

By Cullen Dunham – Madagascar Volunteer

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