Teaching by mentoring

Published On: February 17, 2020 09:02 AM NPT By: Rishi Ram Paudyal

For an English teacher, to see your bachelor’s level student of major English writing ‘englis’ or ‘english’ for English is frustrating

As I was walking to college, I felt I could help students improve English by mentoring them. By utilizing my break time, I could contribute at least a little, I thought. I decided I would take only one student as my mentee. The mentor and mentee would work extra time at their will. If there would be more than one interested students, I would hold a lottery to select the participant. So I announced this in the class. Three students raised hands. I had to hold a lottery. 

I tore three small pieces from a sheet of paper and on two of them I wrote ‘N’ and ‘M’. The student that pulled out ‘M’ would be my mentee.  After that I called one volunteer student and gave those three pieces to put in her palms and cup them so that the students who would draw the lottery wouldn’t see them but there would be some space for them to insert their two or three fingers to pull one piece out.  After the volunteer was ready, I asked the interested students to come forward and try their luck. It was Nanu (name changed) who was lucky. The class clapped for her. 

Needless to say, she was very happy. I told her that mentoring would start from the following day. Upon reaching home, I thought about where I should begin with. I could give her a story and ask her to write the summary or I could ask her to write an essay on a certain topic or I could give her a picture story and ask her to describe. Then an idea struck me. I would give her a passage from one of my articles and develop questions for her to answer. This would give me some ideas about her comprehension and linguistic abilities. Secondly, on the basis of the responses, I could compose new lessons. Thirdly, it would be sustainable as I could myself develop new language teaching-learning activities. Finally, the lesson would be interesting for me as a mentor and hopefully for my mentee too. I thought starting with this would be fine.

So I framed the following questions to elicit her English competency: i) What is the name of the English teacher? ii) When did he feel like mentoring someone? iii) How much time does the mentor have for mentorship? iv) What was the reason for taking only one student as a mentee? v) How would the mentee be selected if there were more than one student? vi) How many students wanted to be mentees? vii) How was the mentee selected viii) Who was the lucky winner? ix) When would mentoring start? x) Do you believe in luck? Why? and xi) Narrate the story from Nanu’s perspective.

After the text and questions were ready, I printed them and gave to Nanu for her to answer. The following day, she brought me two sheets of paper with her responses. I was happy that she faithfully did her assignments and attempted all the questions. At the same time, it was quite disappointing that there were so many areas she had to improve. In an answer to one question I spotted 26 errors. It was quite intimidating. Nanu had problems with the articles, capital letters, present participles, subject-verb agreement, relative clause, spellings, tenses, model verbs, active and passive voice, punctuations, syntax, singular and plural nouns, wh-words, collocations and vocabulary.

For an English teacher, to see your bachelor’s level student of major English in education writing ‘englis’ or ‘english’ for English was frustrating. You hold your head with both of your hands in dismay when your student answers the question ‘How many students wanted to be mentees?’ with ‘there three students wanted to be a mentees.’ It’s dismaying to see when your student writes ‘papper’ for ‘paper’, ‘tomorrow’ for ‘tomorrow’, and ‘mantee’ for ‘mentee’.

As luck would have it, you could twitch your eye and bite your tongue in disbelief when the answer to the question ‘Do you believe in luck? Why?’ comes in the form of: ‘Yes, I believed in luck because I didn’t thought I’ll be a mantee but I selected and It was greatest opportunities for me.’ There you go! Do you need a glass of water?

Would you like to become a mentor like me and have a mentee like mine? I would encourage you to go for it. 

The author is a freelance writer and life member of Nepal English Language Teachers’ Association (NELTA)
Email: rishirampaudyal@gmail.com

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