This is Leap, she is a 6th Grade teacher at Preythom Primary School, in Kok Thlok Leu Commune. She has been teaching here for two years, since she graduated from the teacher training college in Siem Reap. When she started teaching, she moved to Preythom village from her hometown, but has since moved back, to be closer to her friends and family. It takes her 90 minutes to get to work, where she teaches from 7am to 11am, and then again from 1pm until 5pm. Even with such little free time in the day, Leap uses the two hour break as an opportunity to hold English classes. It was during teacher training that she first began to take English classes herself, and soon decided that it was important to improve:
“I wanted to learn English to one day start my own business. English is useful in business, and is such an international language”
Every weekend, she travels for over an hour to Siem Reap, for an intensive two days of English lessons. Despite this much class time, she is frustrated by the lack of opportunity to improve or practice with native English speakers:
“My tutor and fellow students, who I see only once a week, are all Khmer. Also, very few people have English language knowledge in Chi Kraeng, so I have no chance to practice with fluent or native speakers”
Despite her frustration, she continues to do receive weekly lessons, her English is always improving. Her knowledge is easily up to the standard needed to teach basic English to 6th Grade students in Preythom, so that they may be better prepared for secondary school. They are taught using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), as a standard representation of the sounds of spoken English. They are eager to learn, but it can be a challenge:
“The students are great, but like it was for me, it is hard to learn a difficult language when you don’t use it every day”
Temple Garden Foundation’s Child Education Programme (CEP) supports Leap with teacher training, regular class monitoring, and monthly meetings, where teachers are given feedback, and a small subsidy for teaching out of school hours. Leap’s dedication, along with TGF’s support, means that many children in Chi Kraeng get to improve their knowledge and skills every day.