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Humanising Language Teaching
Year 6; Issue 2; March 04

Student Voices

What my teachers taught me about teaching Francoise from Burundi

interviewed in Durban, S. Africa, by Simon Marshall
(Translated from French)

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Simon: Where are you from originally?

Francoise: I originally come from Burundi.

Simon: And the languages you speak?

F: I speak Kirundi, French and a little English.

S: Why did you come to South Africa?

F: I came to S. Africa to get married because we couldn't in Burundi. My husband had been in exile here in Durban since 1997.

S: And are you here alone or with family?

F: I'm not alone any more; I'm with my husband.

S: What was you job in Burundi?

F: In my home country I spent six year teaching in the Kibeiuga Primary School in Bujumura.

S: Did you study English in your native country?

F: Well…. Yes….I learnt English but in a very sloppy way; the teachers couldn't care less. All the same, I always liked English.

S: What are your main motivations for studying English here in S Africa?

F: Most people here in S. Africa use English and learning the language will stand me in good stead in whichever English speaking environment.

S: What do you think of the lessons here at International House, Durban?

F. It's good learning here because travel, lunch, books etc are all free. There are other schools that teach English not really to help the students but to justify getting sponsorship money. After finding out that the teachers at IH Durban tend to mostly come from English speaking countries, my husband encouraged me to study here, which I wanted to do anyway.

I really liked the methods the teachers use, their standard English pronunciation, and the way they encourage us to avoid translating their explanations into our mother tongues. In my view the following qualities are necessary to be a good teacher of languages: You need:

  1. to love the language you teach and you need to have learnt it in a classical way,
  2. to know the methodology of teaching,
  3. to have no fear in the presence of the students, and when using teaching material,
  4. to write legibly,
  5. to know how to use teaching material,
  6. to be dynamic, clear and sociable,
  7. to motivate the students to speak, to write and to memorise what you teach them,
  8. to not frustrate students by giving wrong answers but rather to guide and encourage them.

Simon: Thank you for answering my questions, Francoise.

( Francoise had been a "guinea pig" student on a training course for beginner teachers)

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