Peacekeeping and teaching English

Sergeant Martin Esang from UNIFIL’s Ghanaian Battalion working with one of his English class students.

When the students of Our Lady of Lebanon School in Rmeish first heard about it, “they were shocked.” They “refused” being taught English by UNIFIL’s Ghanaian teachers, their English language teacher, Sana Aoun, pointed out.

“Now, on the contrary, they love them a lot!” Sana added. What she herself particularly loves about the Ghanaian presence in her classroom is that the students are forced to speak English with the peacekeepers. “With me, they blurt out a few Arabic words, but with them, they cannot,” she added triumphantly.

Since early April and until the end of May, three teachers from UNIFIL’s Ghanaian battalion, Warrant Officer 2 Kane Tia, Corporal Akorpa Edzorhoho and Sergeant Martin Esang, have been giving English language courses to the Antonine Sisters’ school in Rmeish for Grades 7, 8 and 9.

The school director, Sister Rita Mansour, explained that she hoped from these courses to “improve the communication skills” of her students but also to “familiarise the children with the peacekeepers, especially when they run across them in towns.” She added, “At first, they were very shy, now they take the initiative and it has become much easier for them to communicate with them.”

“They helped me improve a lot,” Grade 9 student Wael shouted confidently. “They explain very well,” he added. His colleague, Pamela, agreed. “They use a very simple language,” she stressed. “My grades are now better!” said Mario eagerly, and this was echoed by Christine, Elie and others.

What about the accent? WO2 Tia admits that the Ghanaian accent in English makes it a bit difficult. “This is why I have to go slowly,” he said. Maroun, a Grade 8 student joyfully emphasised that “if there was something we didn’t understand, they’d repeat it for us.”

Grade 9 teacher Sergeant Esang confirmed that the students are indeed improving. “We thought they were not able to speak English at all, but to our surprise they are doing very well” he added. His colleague, Grade 8 teacher Corporal Edzorhoho agreed. “They try to explain and they provide a good explanation about all that we are teaching them. And through their explanation you realise they understood the message. They are forcing themselves to learn the language,” she noted, proudly.

Article: Rania Harb
Video Editor: Suzane Badereddine
Video Camera: Mohamad Hamze
Photo: Ghifar Charafeddine