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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Teaching English

We are good friends with an Egyptian family that consists of a single mother with four children. One of these children is a six year old girl, Ibtasam, who is enrolled in kindergarten. I thought that I could help her English by tutoring her a couple times per week. At 3:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Tom and I walk a mile to their house for the tutoring session.
Teach1-09   Teach1-07

Teach1-10 Teach1-08

Tea is always offered in Egyptian homes before anything can begin. Since we are regular visitors, Samia, the mother, prepares tea to our liking without asking our sugar preference--Tom with 2 spoons, mine without.

I purchased a couple of beginning English teaching aids before leaving the US. Ibtasam has had some English in school so I took a look at her school work. At first I was concerned that she was more advanced than the materials I'd brought but soon discovered that I was right on. Memorization is the basis for much of the education in Egypt. Recognizing the alphabet out of order was our first lesson.

After just a few sessions, I was very pleased with her progress.  Next we moved on to writing the letters.  Ibtasam loved this exercise. Keep in mind that Arabic is written from right to left so not only is this a new alphabet, it's also backwards for her. Again, quick progress. She's a very bright little girl.

On a couple occasions, Samia has prepared dinner for us.  We don't know ahead of time that it will be offered; it just shows up and it would be extremely rude for us to decline.  On the left is stuffed cabbage rolls (a dish that we love) served with orzo soup and fried chicken. On the right is rice with vermicelli, lamb and a dish that was new to us, khobeyza (no English translation).
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The distractions during these teaching sessions are many and varied.  The TV, which is often on, pet pigeons flying into the room, a very loud visiting neighbor talking with Samia, a brother-in-law who lives upstairs stopping by to chat with us, neighborhood children who wander in and sometimes the 12 year old sister who loves to show her knowledge by giving the answers.
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When it's time to leave we never go alone.  The entire family accompanies us to the main road with tiny Ibtasam carrying the teacher's bag.  Such a sweet family.

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