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Saturday, April 01, 2006


Meet my class

I would like to tell you a little about the students in my mixed class. I can do this because we have been working on a 'getting to know you' unit. As a way of using the language involved in this unit I conducted a survey of class members.

This was done over a few lessons and numbers varied from day to day between 26 and 32. Our data collection methods may not be scientific but that wasn't the purpose of the exercise. I think this still gives a broad overall picture of my students.

Ages in my class range from 12 to 28 with the average age being 17.6 years.

The three shortest class members are each 130 cm tall. The greatest number of girls/women is in the 156—160 cm range. The greatest number of boys/men is in the 161—165 cm range.

Weights range from 27 kg to 63 kg. The average weight is around, or perhaps just under, 44 kg. Compare this with Australians in the same age bracket and I think you'll agree that none of my class is overweight. In fact, only two class members are heavier than me.

Most of my students still study in regular day school as well as attending English classes at night. Grades range from six to 11. Often students are in a much lower grade than might be indicated by their age owing to missing school because of an inability to pay daily fees. Universal free education still does not exist in Cambodia.

The most popular school subject is English (just as well), followed by Khmer and biology. Eight students have been studying English for four years, the rest for less than that.

None of my students is married.

I suspect my students are not exposed to as wide a range of music as we in the West. 63% stated that their favourite music was 'pop' while 37% preferred Khmer traditional music.

I explained to them that a hobby was something that you did in your free time. When I asked for their favourite hobby, the greatest number said that it was studying. I guess one can study in free time so I accepted this. My assumption is that this reflects their commitment to getting out of poverty. The next most popular hobbies were listening to music and reading. When I asked this question of my students in Thailand, watching TV rated quite highly. Only two of my Cambodian students gave watching TV as their first choice. This may have something to do with a low incidence of TV ownership.

Most students were born in Kompong Chhnang province.

My students call me 'cher' which is their abbreviation of 'teacher'. In Khmer language the stress is usually on the last syllable and Cambodians often do the same in English, in this case to the extent of dropping the first syllable altogether.

My students are generally quite shy, polite and pleasant to teach. We have had a lot of fun getting to know each other.

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