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2009, March

The winter is behind us; exams and holidays at regular schools are finished and everything is 'back to normal'; classes at the Mano English Language Centre are full and we have more applications than we can accept.

The MELC has always been popular and we believe it has only increased with the arrival of a projector that we now use in our classes daily. It is proving to be an effective and powerful tool in helping the students to further improve their English language skills. We bought the projector with the money raised at Christmas fairs in Holland this winter, and it is deeply appreciated at the Centre on a daily basis. It is of course a luxury to have such an item in class, but its value cannot be overestimated. Most students benefit greatly from this method of teaching as it provides (an extra) dimension of entertainment by which the learners are captivated.

Our sponsored students are, save the exception, students who live in shared accommodation, usually connected to the regular school or college they attend. Their families live in small villages in the countryside anywhere outside Luang Prabang and due to a lack of paved roads, often at least a day's hard travelling away. Our sponsored students have been sent to town to obtain an education and the money to do this has been scraped together by the family who often live lives in which money doesn't go to and fro, making the choice of sending a 'valuable hand in the fields' away with having to pay for it, a dire one at the time.

Ironically, it is this hardship that makes students appreciate the chances that they see in town and therefore makes them dedicated, diligent students, therewith qualifying for sponsorship at our Centre. It is this hardship that makes our sponsored students excel. Not always in results for learning does not always come easy to those who have spent most of their childhood years in the fields instead of in a proper school, but definitely in dedication. Therefore we also welcome the learners with lesser ability. Often they make up for it by sheer determination to then walk away with opportunities.

We currently work with 4 assistant teachers, 2 of whom can run classes independently. With our assistants we teach 12 classes a day; Mr Claus has the responsibility for 7 classes and Mr Marcel has 5 classes. Mr Claus and our seasoned assistants, Mr Kay and Mr Chan, teach beginners in courses that last from 6 to 9 months, and Mr Marcel teaches more advanced students and 2 beginners' groups in which he is assisted by Mr Kay and Mr Chan.

All of the students sponsored through the ELK foundation in Holland have now finished their beginners' course successfully and now study on a follow-up 'lower intermediate' course. Like the beginners course, it spans a period of about 6 to 9 months, depending on the speed at which the class learns.

For some months now, there have been intentions to expand the school to accommodate more students. For a variety of reasons no concrete action has been taken yet to effect any changes. Any developments on this will be reported in a next newsletter.

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Students at MEC