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Welcoming the newest students in South Africa

The new year brings sixty new kindergarten (Grade R) students to Christel House South Africa (CHSA) for the 2020 academic year. For many of the children, learning a new language, English, is their first lesson.The new kindergartners who join CHSA usually speak IsiXhosa or Afrikaans as a first language at home. Occasionally we admit a learner whose native tongue is French, Portuguese or Swahili. But, English is the language of instruction at Christel House. “We immerse the children into English with fun activities, using repetition and rhyme,” says Michele Wiener, CHSA Deputy Principal Foundation Phase. “I can confidently say that within three months, the children possess the ability to speak and understand basic English.” Teachers observe the new students to gauge their understanding of concepts like numbers, colors and letters. No child is left behind. One-on-one attention is available for struggling students. “We also teach bathroom and dining etiquette,” says Alfreda Gwashu, a CHSA teacher with 18 years of experience. “With some children, I have to start from scratch and teach them basics that other children their age have already learned.” But she says working with the new students is worth it. “There is so much of yourself that you must give as a teacher, but it is so rewarding,” says Alfreda. “This is why I keep coming back every day.”


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