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21 Jan 2002
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After almost three months of teaching, we're getting to know our students well. Their ages range from about fifteen to fifty, and we have classes of school students, teachers and army officers. Despite insisting that anyone joining the courses should be at least minimally competent in English, there are several who are at about my equivalent level in Khmer - and I speak less than a dozen words! This is a big drag on class progress and can be very frustrating, but the reasons for it are becoming clear: CONNECTIONS. Whilst you or I would be too embarrassed to give priority to our son /daughter /best friend /old colleague, here it is the norm and no-one bats an eyelid. We were rather naive at first and didn't realise this was happening, but we'll be on our toes if phase two ever gets off the ground. As well as variations in English proficiency, there are large discrepancies in computing and general learning ability too. On the whole the younger people pick things up quicker, but credit must be given to many of the older teachers who work hard in class and get there slowly. Self-study is clearly not part of the culture for many, but our frequent tests are starting to make an impression :)