So I got super lucky on the one-to-one tutoring in that the guy who has lived here for six months did in fact manage to find not just one, but five other people at a hostel who want a free lesson. So Saturday morning myself and four others hopped in a Tuk Tuk and went absolutely nowhere fast.

Holy hells, Chinese New Year.

Year of the Monkey, FYI

Also, year of the goddamn traffic.

Jay said it would take about twenty to twenty-five minutes to get to the hostel. We were scheduled to meet at 10am. We left our hotel a little after 930. At 1045 we finally made it to the hostel.

Yeah.

But we got there and we split off with our pupils to do the assessment so we could come up with a lesson.

Now on the surface, this seems like a great idea. I get to practice tutoring and they get a lesson in English. And if that’s as far as you think about it, yeah, everyone wins. But as I and the other three ladies discussed if you actually think about this it is horribly exploitive and a terrible assignment. We’re supposed to go out into this city and find someone who wants or needs English bad enough they are willing to take a free lesson from someone on the street.

This is a poor city in a poor country and any sort of English skill can be the one thing that will allow someone to get a good job that will provide not only for their family but also secure an education for their children that will give them a better life.

So we do this joke of an assessment, for real, it’s a list of questions that takes about twenty minutes to fill out, and we’re supposed to come up with a useful lesson plan from that. The guy I tutored works in the kitchen at the hostel, which was a hella stroke of luck. I’ve worked in restaurant kitchens pretty much since I started working. And, thankfully, my student wanted better kitchen English so that he could move up the ranks.

After we finished our assessments, we walked down the road to a small coffee shop to begin our lesson planning. The strawberry smoothie I got was utterly divine and if it wasn’t so far I’d be there every day getting one.

But I digress.

My student finished his shift at 2, so at 230 we walked back down to the hostel and I did my lesson. I’d like to think I helped him at least a little. But while he had a pretty good understanding of English already, one lesson is not enough to bolster knowledge. It’s just not. The only useful thing I think I taught him was “I don’t understand, let me get someone who can help.”

That’s it.

So I hated this assignment. If I was staying in Cambodia, I’d be at that hostel once a week doing lessons for everyone. The owner even promised us one free meal per lesson if we’d stay and help.

This could be a really great thing. If every batch of teachers coming through went to this hostel and gave everyone one free hour then yes, I can see something coming from that. And we all who went to the hostel passed around the names of our students and the address for the hostel so anyone who didn’t have someone to tutor could go there. As it stands now though, this lesson was just a waste of everyone’s time.

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