Laura Ainamo teaches English in Zimbabwe with ABC English & Me

Many stories coming out of Zimbabwe these days are tough to hear. A suffering economy. Rising inflation. The AIDS crisis, spiraling crime, and the country is struggling to preserve its disappearing Mother Tongue languages as well as learn English.

Learn how Kindermusik is helping to preserve Mother Tongue Languages and visit the Mother Tongue Lullaby Project Tumblr page

Yet in a small school in Zimbabwe, 20-year-old Finnish Educator Laura Ainamo is making music. Laura uses music, rhythm, songs, and animals to help children there learn English. One of her classroom challenges is to find one program that helps children at different ESL levels. ABC English & Me is helping to bring these groups together, Laura says.

Below, she shares her own classroom experience.

Hi, my name is Laura and I am from Finland. I’m 20 years old and I just finished my high school. I am in Zimbabwe for three months. Staying here till 29th of November. I am teaching ABC English & Me to eight groups of ten children.

Most of the children are in 1st and 2nd grade, but about ten of the children are in 3rd and 4th grade because they do poorly in English.

I have printed the visuals in color and have them laminated, I am using a laptop for the music and I have all the instruments sent by Kindermusik. I have a puppet called Maria, she is a bear and named after my big sister in Finland.

Lessons that I have had have been good. The children like the instruments and tapping the drum but most of them have been able to count to four already or they know many of the animals. Sometimes I do extra activities, such as a little game with the egg shakers. I say “down, up, or middle” and they have to put the shakers where I tell them to go.

They are also very musical and they like the songs. Unfortunately my time here won’t be enough for more than maybe the 1st and 2nd theme but we already have a likely successor to take over and she will be helping me with my lessons. She is Nyasha and lives in Zimbabwe.

– Laura Ainamo

ABC English & Me incorporates a multi-media approach to learning English, using integrated pictures, songs, activities and stories with each new unit theme. Each unit is about 4 weeks and incorporates some repetition with the introduction of new activities.

"Rub Your Ears!" In the classroom, children spend time listening to sounds of instruments, or sound effects in a story, to develop focused listening skills.

Puppets are one of the tools of the program: They can be used to reinforce the "One Parent, One Language" approach in ELL classrooms. The puppet can speak English while the Educator can clarify instructions in the child's mother tongue.

The children smile and play music together, while learning English.

Children develop an awareness of the rhythm and patterns of language using musical instruments, such as the egg shaker.

Visit the English Language Learning category or Subscribe to our blog for current news on ABC English & Me, ELL research, and Kindermusik programs around the world.

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