Rachel Louise was on our volunteer in Kerala program for Teaching.

Our day usually starts with a home prepared breakfast at the local home-stay. This is usually is a traditional Indian breakfast and definitely fills you for the your morning ahead. Auto rikshaws will usually then pick you up from your home-stay to take you to your first school. This journey is definitely an experience in itself passing through the local neighborhood and market areas, so there are many things to see.

During my time with Rainbow Voluntours, I spent the morning at a local primary school supporting small groups with additional English lessons. This ranged from basic alphabet skills to formation of sentences and verbal English skills. Be prepared for the level of English to be quite basic as many of the children really do need support to understand fully.

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We typically finished our first school around 11.30 am which left a few hours to find a local place to eat or explore some more sights around Fort Kochi. This was also a good time to prepare ideas for the following days lessons or collect any materials you many need.

In the afternoon we visited a range of different projects depending on the needs at the time. This could be more of a group session teaching children or assisting teachers. The focus of the class is given by teachers or local staff (or ask the previous day) but it involves grammar, basic English activities or songs. Be prepared to be flexible as the needs change from day to day.

The final project of the day was at a local girls school where we took two classes. The first class (45 mins) was with younger girls upto age 8. Lessons usually focused around basic English skills however the teachers are happy for your to use your own ideas so definitely come with some ideas in mind. The children here were so quick to pick up new ideas and vocabulary, however learning through songs, pictures and visual prompts definitely worked best. Keeping lessons simple was also key as children were learning in a second language.

Our final class of the day moved up towards the older girls classes (ages 11-14). These children came after school for lessons to support their spoken and written English. What struck me was how much their confidence could be boosted by these extra sessions. We finished around 4.30pm leaaving you free to explore town some more or return to your home-stay.

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Looking back at my two weeks volunteering there would be a few things I would consider. Even if you have any teaching experience from back home , be prepared to  be teaching at a very basic level and come with some different ideas of how you can do activities differently to keep the children interested. Basic materials (Paper/Pencils etc) can be bought locally but anything else would be need to be brought from home (craft materials/ reading resources).

Overall a fantastic experience to see local project in Kerala and there the timings still leave plenty of time in the evening/ weekends to explore the local area. I definitely hope to come back !

Rachel Taylor