Informal English lesson for students of San Damiano Hostel.

An ongoing effort of a group of Catholic Singaporeans and Malaysians to improve some Sabah students’ command of English saw the volunteers organising an English camp recently.

Calling themselves Clare’s Missionaries, the 24 volunteers, comprising 17 from Singapore and seven from Malaysia, worked with students in San Damiano Hostel, Kiulu, Sabah, from March 13-18.

The Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (FSIC) run the hostel, one of several they manage across Malaysia. These facilities house orphans, children from poor, large, or broken families, as well and student boarders.

The recent camp included an Extensive English Reading programme, where an English-speaking environment was created for the students, and remedial lessons.

Movies, games, sing-along sessions, role-play and drama were also organised to help the students learn the language. The volunteers also identified smaller groups of students that could study together based on their English proficiency, said Mr Gerard Lim, a volunteer.

Jonathan Hee, a Singapore Polytechnic student, said the first few days were a challenge as the students were shy. However, they were later motivated to speak up after volunteers’ encouragement.

The next mission trip is planned for August.

By Darren Boon
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