MARSHALL—Teacher education students at East Texas Baptist University gained practical experience writing activities to help teachers in Bantu, Ethiopia, teach English to their students.
The ETBU teacher education department learned of the need through Jim Palmer, coordinator for a group of churches in East Texas that help establish schools and churches in rural Ethiopia. Palmer asked if the department could help the English-as-a-Second-Language program at the Bright Hope School in Bantu.
“After a summer of research and planning, it was determined that writing culturally and developmentally appropriate activities would be the best way to assist the teachers in the school,” said Donna Lubcker, dean of the ETBU School of Education.
Students in reading classes during the fall 2013 and spring 2014 semester participated in Project Ethiopia. The future educators spent time researching the culture and the type of students who attend the school in Bantu before writing lesson plans.
“The ETBU students used pictures of the school in Ethiopia, information about the village and area to help them develop appropriate activates that would fit the Ethiopian culture,” Lubcker said.
The department also raised $2,500 to purchase materials for the teachers in Bantu to use to implement the activities, she added.
As the students developed activities, professors reminded them what works in the classroom in East Texas might not work in Ethiopia. For example, activities based on Thanksgiving—an American holiday with a traditional meal of turkey and dressing—would be foreign to the students. On the other hand, activities involving music would be quite familiar to the students in Bantu.
“It was a wonderful practical experience for our students. As they worked on this project, they knew that what they were writing would really be used to help students learn—even if the students were half-way around the world,” Lubcker said.