When the Form 1 students at Ngateu Secondary School were given an English language assessment, not one of them scored above 60 percent. Still, the students are lucky, because they have Mr. Japhet Piniel on their side. “English is a struggle for my students, but I can’t accept failure. I just have to keep trying,” he said. Mwangaza helped Mr. Piniel mold his existing science instruction strategies to better cater to the individual needs of his student.
His lesson on chemical warning signs is of particular pride to him. Included in his lesson are the important vocabulary terms toxic, explosive, flammable, and corrosive. These terms can be difficult for a native English speaker, but teaching them to students who are not only learning the content but the language as well poses even further difficulties. But for Mr. Piniel, there is no such thing as failure. He grouped his students together to read and dissect a section of text that conveyed one of the new words in an easy to understand format. These groups spent time finding the meaning of the new word as a group, explaining it to one another in their own, casual language. When the students were confident in their understanding of the new vocabulary word, the groups were jigsawed to create new groups. The information was then shared between the students using language that was comfortable and familiar rather than academic language which often causes more confusion than understanding.
Mr. Piniel thanks Mwangaza for being a resource to teachers like him who want nothing less than success for his students. “May God bless the work that Mwangaza is doing,” he said. Without the work they do, Mr. Piniel would not be the confident, enthusiastic teacher his school knows and loves.