Friday, April 8, 2011

6 Months in Tonga!

First, I apologize that it's been fifteen million years since I last wrote. I've been pretty busy and keep neglecting my blogging duties. So if you happen to still actually read my blog, sorry about that! Second, it's official- I've been in Tonga for 6 months! As of April 4th. I've been at my site for 3 months as of March 17th. One school term is over. I can't even begin to say how craaaaaaazy that is! I feel like it hasn't been nearly that long, but at the same timeit seems like I've lived in Tonga forever. Time is absolutely flying and I feel as though I've barely accomplished anything, yet I've learned so much. It's a hard sensation to describe. The first school term just ended. I missed the last week because I had TEFL training in Nuku'alofa for a week, and then our In-Service Training for a week. So I've been in town for two weeks without returning to my community and it's incredibly weird. I miss my kids and my friends and my Tongan family! It was great to see all of my training group (everyone was flown in from their own islands) but I'm ready to get back home and start school again on Monday. I have a lot of ideas for this term that I got from the TEFL training, so I'm excited to start putting them in place. I also have 8 weeks of teaching under my belt (woo-hoo!) and know my kids better, so hopefully we'll be able to accomplish more this term. A lot of my students have already improved their English just by being willing to practice and speak with me. I rarely speak Tongan with them (even though I probably could), so usually if they want to talk to me they are forced to use English in some capacity. Cute story about this. First, a little background. My principal, Viniseni, and his wife, Vao, (the class one teacher) are my neighbours, and also kind of my Tongan parents. They have 8 children (although one is really a niece but she lives there). There's Lolini, Akesa, Kalea, Mafi, Siniti, Neomai, Senileka, and Tupou. Lolini, Akesa, Kalea, and Mafi all attend boarding school in town and so are only home Friday afternoons through Saturday or Sunday afternoons. Siniti and Neomai go to the Weslyan English speaking middle school and come home in the afternoons. Senileka and Tupou are my students. Senileka is in class 6, and Tupou is in class 3 which means that he's 7 years old. Siniti, Neo, Senileka and Tupou often come in and out of my house after school and in the evenings to colour, read, and get homework help. Apparently at some point Tupou decided that only English is to be spoken in my house, although that's not a rule I have. He's great about practicing his English and not even remotely shy. If he needs to know what something means, he'll just ask and then use the English word. He's also decided to enforce this rule upon other children who come play in my house. One day he and a classmate, 'Ofa, came over and were looking at all of the pictures I have on my walls. 'Ofa started to ask my something in Tongan and Tupou immediately yelled "USE ENGLISH IN KATALINA'S HOUSE!" Poor 'Ofa just kind of looked at me and I shrugged my shoulders. I didn't mind if he used Tongan, but if Tupou wanted to make him use English then I certainly wasn't going to discourage it. It's a great way for them to practice and if it means they'll also practice with each other, then that's even better! So speaking has improved at my school and this term I'm really hoping to work on writing- especially with my class 6 students. I'm starting to get a little nervous about their exam (although I won't tell them that!). I'll let you know how it goes! Love and miss you all! xoxo k

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