by Sandhya Sriram and Ting Claravall
As part of its mission to provide on-going personal development to low-income women, Aidha initiated a new programme of free Basic English Classes, open to both current Aidha students and non-students. The first class was held on 25 October 2015 and proved extremely popular, with the limited slots for around 25 people filling up quickly within days of being announced.
The class was conducted by Caroline Panousis, an Aidha volunteer for almost six years. Caroline is a finance graduate with a certificate in English from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom. She brought her fascination for linguistics and passion for teaching to the class, as evidenced by the highly engaging and interactive session.
When asked why she was motivated to deliver this course, she explained, “I think some domestic workers have been hesitating to join Aidha because they don’t feel their English is good enough to cope with the course. Also, existing students want to improve their English language skills because it can give them more opportunities.”
Caroline focused on communication skills to help build the confidence to speak up. During the hour and half session, the class covered basic grammar, vocabulary and commonly used phrases. The conversational course focused on reading, listening and language comprehension.
The session comprised interesting methods to keep the class engaged, employing techniques such as written exercises (vocabulary building, ‘how to ask questions’), role-plays and games.
One student, Anggereine Laurens, shared how she hoped the Basic English course would help her every day: “My friends say my English is already perfect but I don’t agree. I want to improve my English so that I can communicate better. I want to be able to speak fluently with my employers and convey my message in a better manner”.
Meanwhile, non-Aidha student, Anisa Nurjanah, spoke about how she came to know about Aidha and the Basic English course. With a bright smile on her face, she said that, “My employers are nice. They heard about Aidha and asked me to join this course. There are so many English words that I know but unsure of whether I’m using them correctly. I get very confused. Today, I learnt a lot from the class.”