Mwangothaya: a lesson

Nose- i, food-i, ear-i, head-i chest-i …

Mai Namvuwa touches her nose, she swings her leg up, shows her foot, pulls her ears, grabs her back and around 100 schoolchildren do the same. What looks like a gymnastics lesson is the second year English lesson at the Mwangothaya School in southern Malawi.

Nose- i, food-i, ear-i, head-i chest-i… (the typical i is appended everywhere!).

Each part of the body shown is spoken out loud in English by the teacher and the children repeat it out loud and in unison. Then Ms. Namvuwa only points to the body parts and the students have to name them in English. Whenever the children get stuck, she lovingly helps.

Now the words are written on the blackboard (an old light door leaf!) And the children read aloud. A child can point a word with a stick, a second should read it and show it on their own body. Each correct answer is honored with a rhythmic clap from the other children. A happy lesson is one in which there is a lot of laughter!

Now the individual work follows: the children unpack their new exercise books from their plastic bags and copy the new words off the blackboard. There is a lot of concentration!

3rd grade can be heard in the background …

It is also taught in the church room. 75 children who are reading an English text with their teacher: “On the road. Chimwewe was a standard three girl. On day she was late for school …”

The second grade children do not allow themselves to be distracted and write in their exercise books. Nose, food, head chest, ear, eye …. The teacher walks almost majestically between the children and gives them tips and every now and then pulls out her red pencil to improve something.

In the background you can hear the “Chimwewe was a standard three girl …” as if spoken out of one mouth, a melody that swings through the church. Fortunately, only 2 classes are being taught in the church today, as the fourth year teacher is on the road with Sibylle and Ecki!

I’m still sitting in the front near the blackboard of the second grade and don’t dare to get up to take photos. The children would then suddenly turn to me and the whole school peace would be over! So I look into the concentrated children’s faces. I am happy with the children who are praised and suffer a little with those who find it difficult to draw the letters on paper. In the background I take the “Chimwewe was a Standard three girl. On day she was late for school …” was only soft.

Between the 3rd grade choir and the hard-working 2nd grade schoolchildren who sit and work on the church floor, points of light dance around the children who decorate this dark church with its two school classes with shining white pearls.

A look up reveals the magic. There are countless small holes in the church roof!