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Bridges Language Program - Madina Aybekovna

My experience teaching in the Bridges language program

by Madina Aybekovna

 

Since December, I have been meeting with little human beings to teach Uzbek, my language, every week. It has been one of the most enlightening experiences that I have had here as a Fulbright scholar at IU.

I am an English teacher in Uzbekistan, and I am currently teaching my language to college students in the US; however, this was the first time that I have taught Uzbek to American children whom I have found to be quite different from the Uzbek children back home. Our Assalom group is an Uzbek language-learning class that includes 3-7 children from ages 3 to 10. The classes were held in the Monroe County Public Library every Monday. For the last 8 weeks, I have been enjoying teaching these young students. I have had a lot of help from many different people. I would not have been able to teach the language if it weren’t for my co-teacher, who is also from Uzbekistan; the language and program coordinators, and the parents of my little language learners, who were especially helpful.

Since I came to the US as a Fulbright visiting scholar, I have met many people from different backgrounds but I have rarely been in contact with small children. For this reason, my work with them has been especially interesting. One of the central passions that I have for teaching lies in the fact that I am able to pass my knowledge on to children. I remember when I was in middle school, my family and I used to go to my mother’s hometown by train, and I would always get to know the children on the train and teach them simple things in different subjects. At that time, I would feel proud of myself for doing a good deed. In this same vein, there is a saying in Uzbek, ”Yoshlikda olingan bilim, toshga o’yilgan naqsh kabidur,” which means “The knowledge you gained when you were young is like the pattern which is carved on the stone.” 

I was impressed by the enthusiasm of the parents who want their children to learn the language and who are also very interested to learn it together with them. At the beginning of the classes, the parents were the only ones who were trying to use the words they learned in the class but by the end of the class, some of the little learners were responding in “Uzbek-English.” For instance, I remember one student saying “Mr. Rogers watch yaxshi ko’raman ” which means “I like to watch Mr.Rogers”. In this short period of time we learned a song about peace, the “finger family” song, watched a cartoon in the Uzbek language about Sumalak (a national food which is made for the Navruz holiday), had a chance to taste sumalak, and learned a few words for colors and animals. It was truly rewarding to hear the words of gratitude from the parents at the end of our last class. I am glad I had the chance to teach these children, and I have enjoyed being a part of the Assalom team.