December 2010 to March 2011 was a dynamic period for the children in the orphanage Zyber Hallulli in Tirana, Albania, thanks to YES alumnae Anisa Hoxha, Ina Gjika, Emiljana Hoti, and Redona Collaku, and a project they called “English for All.”
Using funding from an American Councils small grant, Hoxha, Gjika, Hoti and Collaku provided English language instruction to the children in the orphanage. The children were divided into two groups, one for beginners and one for more advanced students. The beginners’ group learned basics of English, primarily through games and songs. The advanced group focused more on grammar, but again the alumnae instructors used games to help make classes more interesting and content more memorable. “We had some difficulties throughout the project,” the alumnae—most of whom were teaching English for the first time—admitted, “but we overcame them successfully, talking to the children and asking them [what] they needed.”
In addition to holding regular English classes, the alumnae also threw parties for the children, one for Christmas and New Year, and another for Teacher’s Day. For the Christmas party, the children performed songs in English and everyone danced and had fun. For Teacher’s Day, the children prepared poems in English for their teachers and for the alumnae. The alumnae, in turn, gave the children small, useful presents and gave the teachers flowers as a symbol of their respect.
The alumnae all agree that the project was very successful. “The children learned what we planned for them, and we had a great time teaching,” Hoxha, Gjika, Hoti and Collaku explained. “Now we hope other cities in Albania or other countries will do the same project!”