For the past two months, the students in my advanced club and I have been devoting one hour of our club per week, and who knows how many countless hours outside of class to work on creative writing. Yesterday, the students had one hour to write about a prompt they had never seen and respond to it in a creative way. Of the 3o students who started in the club, 19 showed up yesterday and turned in papers. Their papers will go to Phnom Penh to be judged, on the merit of their ideas, not grammar, and all of the students will get a certificate, regardless of how they did. I was impressed to see my students writing away, and I felt accomplished seeing them do a task that would have been impossible, or at least much more difficult, a few months ago. It was also very gratifying when a few students came up to me after the test to ask if they could keep doing writing in the club after this week. I told them no and that the only thing that was important was the competition itself...I didn't really.
One of the assignments I had the students doing in preparation for the competition (and of course practicing critical thinking and using the language in a real way) was to write a letter to be put into a bottle and thrown out to sea, as if you were on a desert island, telling how you got to the island, what the island is like, and asking to be rescued. I particularly liked Samon's closing remarks on his letter: "Don't forget, I'm looking forward to getting your help on [this] desert island. From me, Samon"
Now that the competition is over, and I've got some free time this week due to teacher meetings and Buddha's birthday, I'm going to get back to finishing The Count of Monte Cristo and playing guitar. Stay tuned next week, I'll be in Phnom Penh for training and therefore have decent internet, so I'll try and put up some more pictures / stories maybe even a video. :)
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