Internship & Primary Schools

Molo! Today was the first day of our internships!!!!! Every day for the next three weeks we will be spending our days at our internshp sites, which are primary schools. The four undergrads are at W. B. Tshuma Primary School and the graduates are at another. Between us four undergrads, we are separated between a Grade R class and a Pre R class. I was in the Pre R with kids 4 to 4 ½ years old, like our pre-school in the States. My teacher’s name is “Jabu” and she has been teaching and Tshuma since 2010. Sadly enough, she doesn’t get paid as a teacher. She simply gets up and goes to work everyday for nothing. However the students are sooo cute! They only speak Xhosa but are learning English in Pre R. The principal, Mr. Salie said that by 2014 as a department of education rule, all Grade 1 learners would be speaking three languages as part of their curriculum. Most of the learners’ native tongue is Xhosa. English is the secondary language, and then the third language they have the option of learning Afrikaans, Zulu, Swati, etc. There are 11 languages in South Africa (The main three being Xhosa, English, and Afrikaans). Afrikaans is very similar to Dutch. Many South Africans don’t want to learn Afrikaans because it’s the language of the “oppressor” and what the Dutch settlers spoke (many white South African students learn Afrikaans in their schools). Anyways, the number of languages kids speak in Grade 1 is ridiculously impressive. I was barely learning to read and write English in 1st grade let alone multiple languages. The students in the Pre R classes can already count to ten in English; they know their colors in English; and some lots of other English phrases. It’s very impressive. All the children were very eager and excited Emily and me to be helping them in their classroom. The teacher, Jabu, did a great job of explaining to us their daily routine (which isn’t very structured) and what was happening next. She also did a good job at translating for us and was excited when we were excited to learn a few phrases in Xhosa. Emily and I read some books in English (which they didn’t fully understand, but liked hearing us talk to them!). We also sat with them on their carpet and the kids would climb on me and want my attention! They loved my hair and petted my head. They liked my hands and my watch and all of my earrings too! Most of them haven’t been in close contact with many white people, so they were interested to see what white girls’ hair and hands feel like, to see how they differ from their own. Their classroom was very small and limited resource-wise. The students utilized blocks for colors/numbers and had worksheets, but other than that, there weren’t really a lesson or a theme for the week. I guess it makes sense, coming from a Pre R class when many of the kids aren’t “school ready”. After all they are only four years old. Emily and I started talking with Jabu about Xhosa phrases so that we can learn some of their language during these three weeks. It’s nice for the students to be with native English speakers as they are learning English, but it’s really cool for us to learn Xhosa from them as well! It was also interesting because Jabu had questions for us too! She asked if we ever met Whitney Houston, Oprah, or Tyra Banks! We had to explain to her that even though we’re from the US, we can’t always meet famous people! She wanted to know how old we are, our marital status, and birth order. The guy who is arranging our internships in the schools, Paul Madima (he’s a Dutchman, mom!) said that South Africans love to know your social standing, not to treat you with more or less respect, but just so they can ”frame” you to a status. So I wasn’t surprised when Jabu asked us about our age and everything because in South Africa, if you’re a grandmother, that is looked at very highly than if you are a young/single girl. If you have a child you are looked at in high regard, but if you are married with children, you are looked at even higher. Kind of interesting! We also got the chance to sit in on a Life Orientation class with a woman named, Zozo who teaches it. She teaches about life skills/morals/culture/values to students in grades 7-9. Those kids speak English pretty fluently and Zozo teaches her classes in English. I’m really interested to see what these next few days and weeks hold for us. Tomorrow will be new and even more exciting so I can’t wait to share with you what it is like!

One thought on “Internship & Primary Schools

  1. This is an incredible experience! I wish our schools spent more time teaching multiple languages at early ages. It’s interesting to see that they aren’t thrilled about learning Afrikaans. I love that they respect a grandmother and women with children. Interesting that it’s whether they’re married or not–I guess it’s that they bore a child and are being a life-giver, caretaker? I like that it’s respected. And how lovely that the kids are so warm and interested in everything. Thanks for giving us a feel for it all. I’m going to go look at the photos now. 🙂

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