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The Kalahari Experience

The Kalahari students you will be working with are ESL students. This means that they are learning all their subjects (mathematics, science, geography, etc.) in English. This is difficult enough, but the Kalahari students face additional challenges. In most cases they are taught in large classrooms by teachers for whom English is also a second language. Their schools are poorly resourced, and they may have family issues that preoccupy them.

There are many aspects of this situation that we at Frankfurt International School are powerless to influence. Nevertheless the teachers and students who participate in the Kalahari Experience can make a significant difference in the schools in which they temporarily work.

The most important thing they can do is to make the lessons that they teach in the Kalahari schools as useful and enjoyable as possible. This presupposes that participants have a basic knowledge of the fundamental principles of teaching subject content in English to second language learners (ESL students). The most important of these issues are:

The videos below cover these issues in summary form. The pages containing the videos have links to more detailed information about the topics under discussion.

In order to get the most out of the videos you should first do the survey at the link below - preferably together with a partner so that you can discuss the issues together. This will get you thinking about the challenges of teaching ESL students, and prime you for the information and advice that the videos contain.

The survey will also give you the opportunity to ask questions that I will answer and collate in this webpage: Teaching the Kalahari Students - Questions and Answers.

Pre-videos survey

  1. Course Introduction: The Kalahari Situation (2.49)
  2. Characteristics of good ESL teachers (2.33)
  3. Pedagogic questions in theory(3.10)
  4. Pedagogic questions in practice (2.52)
  5. Difficulties of the English Language - Introduction (3.48)
  6. Difficulties of the English Language: Vocabulary - Part 1 (2.06) [Optional]
  7. Difficulties of the English Language: Vocabulary - Part 2 (4.22)
  8. What makes language incomprehensible (4.51)
  9. Making spoken language comprehensible (2.14)
  10. How to explain unknown words (1.58)
    Word explanation demo (1.35)
  11. Explaining written texts (4.08)
  12. Course Summary (1.35)

  13. View all the above workshops in a single video (36.31)

Click to read advice from previous participants in the Kalahari project.

If you would like to ask questions about the information and advice in the videos before leaving for the Kalahari, please send me an email. (Click on my name at the foot of the page.)

After your return from the Kalahari, it would be helpful if you could complete this very brief survey. The survey asks you to rate the usefulness of the instructional videos in the light of your actual experiences in the Kalahari. This will help me to assess the content of the videos and make any necessary improvements.

I will use any useful comments and advice you give to future Kalahari participants. [See this page - all contributions will be anonymous.]


Click on the following link if you are interested in the mother tongue of the Kalahari students you will be teaching, and even in learning a few words and phrases. Being able to greet them in their own language will help you to establish the kind of friendly, cooperative relationships that are the basis of teaching and learning.

Learn some Setswana words and phrases


Videos pictures sources

This page and linked videos by Paul Shoebottom, Upper School ESL coordinator 1986-2017.


Frankfurt International School: Art and artists. (Click to see at full size.)