Maths and English, enlivened by a green bun

Cambodia’s not the country for a lie-in.  This morning I was woken by the wedding music – getting used to that – and by a gecko who sounded so close that I was convinced he was about to jump into bed with me.  If you’ve never heard a gecko, they make the strangest sound, which reminds me of the talking dolls I used to have as a child.  If you imagine a talking doll with very loud hiccups, that’s what a gecko sounds like.

Maths today – multiplication, division and perimeters – which I coped with very successfully, if not very neatly.


and some of them did considerably better than me in that respect:


The children all stand up to answer questions, so during a question and answer session they are constantly bobbing up and down, which must be very hard on the knees.  Teachers are all called ‘Teacher’, pronounced Teachar, which is abbreviated to ‘char’, and when they are working on something difficult you hear ‘char! char! char!’ constantly from every corner of the room, as though we’re all at some Strictly-inspired ballroom dance class.

There was great excitement at lunchtime, because the lunch cafe has invested a bun oven and is selling bright green buns – so I just had to try one.


It tasted like a warm, slightly chewy brioche, and I wasn’t quite sure why it was green, because it didn’t taste green.  Another option in the bun warmer, on the top shelf, is something that looks exactly like a pallid pork pie – I may try it next week if I’m feeling reckless.


The reading books for the English classes are from a British reading scheme and all feature three children, whose names are Biff, Chip and Kipper.  Who writes these books?  Have they ever come across children in England called Biff, Chip and Kipper?  Two of them are boys and one’s a girl – would you have any idea from the names which one is the girl?  ‘Mum and Dad, I’d like you to meet my new girlfriend Biff/Chip/Kipper.’  Ridiculous.

Another problem with the English books is that the copies we are working from aren’t the originals; they’ve been copied many, many times, and you can barely make out what most of the pictures are.  This is quite a disadvantage when you’re learning a language and trying to match the words with the pictures.  So, rather like the Eskimos and their many different words for snow, the Cambodian children think that English has an awful lot of words to describe black, blurry shapes on a grey background.

If you didn’t know what a horse was, you’d never work it out from the picture at the bottom of this page:


IT this afternoon was a typing lesson – via a programme called Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing.  Mavis is a rather fearsome looking woman, and in her advertising material looks like a sales rep about to make a presentation – probably for toothpaste as she has a very wide, very white smile.  So that’s another name to add to their ever-growing list of typical English names – Biff, Chip, Kipper … and Mavis.