Update from an Alumnus – Andrea Chisholm

We are very excited to bring you an update from 2013 BCF teacher Andrea Chisholm. Accompanied by her husband and two sons, Andrea spent a year in Bhutan teaching English at Chumey MSS in the district of  Bumthang. Having been home in Australia for over eight months now, Andrea is still very much connected to the country of Bhutan, the students, and the community of people she met along the way.

“We’ve been home from Bhutan since January, and although I feel fully immersed in a rich and happy life here in Australia, I still think of Bhutan everyday. I’ve become a Bhutanophile whose heart was captured by that magical place like no other at the top of the mountains.”

Along with teaching a full schedule in Bhutan, Andrea took on the role as primary school librarian. Following her passion for teaching reading to her students, Andrea has been working on a special project for the last few months that has recently come to fruition. To learn more about this project straight from the source visit Andrea’s blog post Books for Bhutan. Since writing her post, Andrea’s set of twelve books has been completed and she is looking forward to moving this project forward including fundraising to see these books printed and distributed throughout the country!

Photo Credit: Andrea Chisholm - Books for Bhutan Cover

Photo Credit: Andrea Chisholm - Books for Bhutan
Photo Credit: Andrea Chisholm – Books for Bhutan

 Reading seemed to me to be the most important skill my students needed to acquire. Most started school with no knowledge of English and yet this foreign language is the medium for their primary and high school education. Becoming a fluent user of English is imperative to success at school and the only pathway to further education and opportunities in Bhutan and beyond…

I bought a bundle of levelled readers in Thimphu and used these to listen to my students read one on one every morning before school. Most started with level 1 and struggled with even the most simple sentences as they had so little vocabulary in English. The books were made for Australian kids so they were about trips to the park, rock pools or museum, Australian style birthday parties, school fetes and making cheese tomato and lettuce sandwiches!

So, my mind began whirring with the idea of producing a set of very similar levelled readers that were Bhutan-ised. They would need simple modifications to content to draw on Bhutanese children’s prior knowledge and life experience. I thought clear and colourful photographic images of familiar scenes would engage students and help them identify vocabulary. And Jake and Anja would need to make way for Dorji and Deki!

Read about Andrea’s year spent teaching in Bhutan at her blog From Down Under to the Top of the World.

Update from an Alumnus – Andrea Chisholm

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