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Maasai Tribe to Speak English with a Bolton Accent

Friday, 28 May 2010

Girls at Bolton School are helping a Maasai tribe to speak English!  The Year 9 girls have been video recording one another speaking in basic and clear English and the tapes will be used to supplement other teaching materials and sent out to rural Tanzania.    

The project has come about after pupils linked up with the African tribe via a Skype video connection during a Geography lesson earlier in the year.  The girls had quizzed the Maasai on how they were being affected by tourism and they, in turn, had been keen to learn about life in Bolton. 

The Maasai are currently learning English through Twiga English books and the girls' video footage will accompany the books and help bring the learning of English to life.  The girls will also prepare material about living in Bolton, including some typical English recipes, in response to some of the questions that were raised during their earlier discussion. 

Elizabeth Moore, aged 14, had enjoyed the morning and said: "We've had great fun creating the English videos today for the Maasai tribe.  It was harder than I first thought, in that you have to create the right tone, not too serious and not too giggly.  It is nice to think of a little piece of Tanzania developing where the locals speak English with a Bolton accent.  At least we should be able to understand one another when we go out to visit them next summer!"

Two alumni of the school, Max Griffiths and Sam Yates, facilitated the link-up through an educational centre that they have set up in Meserani in North Tanzania.  During their postgraduate studies, they learnt how the Maasai had been self-sufficient for centuries but in recent years their semi-nomadic way of life has changed as the Tanzanian government encloses much of their land, turning it into National Parks and Conservation Areas, whilst private farmers and tourism companies have bought up a lot of the land as well.  As a consequence, their existence from herding cattle is under threat and they are keen to develop new skills to allow them to earn extra income.  The Maasai told Max and Sam that in order to get jobs in tourism and towns they needed help to develop their English language and maths skills as well as tuition in the local Tanzanian language and computing skills.  This provided Max and Sam with the impetus to set up their own charity, LivLife, and to build an educational centre. 

Mr Andrew Green-Howard, Senior Deputy Head of the Girls' Division, said: "The girls are really enjoying working with the Maasai.  The link-up has created a strong bond between our pupils and the tribespeople.  Although today is about preparing English course materials for them, we are keen that the project is a two-way process and that we learn from them too.  With this in mind, girls and boys will be going out to visit the tribe in the summer of 2011.  They will help out in the educational centre whilst they are there and get to know the Maasai better.  We are also putting together a teacher training programme, which will see our own staff help the educational centre staff improve their teaching skills." 

The school sees this as a long-term project and is hopeful of raising funds to help build a second educational centre which may even carry the Bolton School name!  Things should start to get very interesting in 2012 when the aim is to bring the Maasai to Bolton! 

 

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Girls create videos

Girls get busy creating video tapes to help the Maasai learn English

Filming one another

Year 9 pupils view back the videos they created

Maasai viewing their laptop

The Maasai view their laptop, which rests on a bucket