English Lesson

Afghans4Tomorrow Girls School

Between 1996 and 2001, the Taliban were in power in Afghanistan, and girls were not allowed to attend school. Following the fall of the Taliban in 2001, many teenage girls, having missed five years of school, resumed their studies at the elementary school level.

Afghans4Tomorrow is a non-political humanitarian organization dedicated to the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan. In March 2007, I traveled to Afghanistan as a volunteer to teach English and take photographs in the Afghans4Tomorrow girls schools.

©Susan Hall 2007. All Rights Reserved.
©Susan Hall 2007. All Rights Reserved.
©Susan Hall 2007. All Rights Reserved.
©Susan Hall 2007. All Rights Reserved.

On our first day at Afghans4Tomorrow, Marsha MacColl and I introduced ourselves to the students. Our primary teaching tools were flash cards and children's songs. Confusion ensued when the Afghans4Tomorrow English teacher, Safia, tried to translate "octopus" and "iguana" to Dari. Some of the girls prefaced each spelling exercise with "In the name of Allah" before spelling the word.

Dari is the official language of Afghanistan and is read and written from right to left. Students study three languages at the Afghans4Tomorrow schools: Dari, Pashto and English. They also study the Quran, the Holy Book of Islam, which is written in Arabic.

The alphabet song was a big hit and after numerous tries, the girls mastered the stepped-up cadence on the section "L-M-N-O-P." We went on to teach "The Eensy Weensy Spider," "I'm a Little Teapot," "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" and finally "Auld Lang Syne," as a tribute to the Afghan New Year, Nawrooz.

At the close of the first day, I told students, "See you tomorrow," and one girl responded, "Sure, why not."

The second day, our lesson plan was a "how-to" guide on writing a letter. I had planned to do a postcard and photograph exchange with students at Knightsen School in California. It was going pretty smoothly until I got out the Polaroid camera, at which point chaos ensued. The girls were very excited to have their picture taken and weren't willing to give up the Polaroids. The most commonly repeated phrase was, "Teacher, take my picture!"

Only a handful of the Afghan students were proficient enough in English to write postcards. One student, Mursal, was exceptional. She has two older sisters who are fluent in English and a family that is very excited about education: "Hello! Hi! My name is Mursal. I have two sister and I haven't brother and I have a sweet mother and sweet father. I am 12 years old and I am in Afghans4Tomorrow school in fourth class. I love my teachers, ok, goodbye, Mursal. I am from Afghanistan."

Each day, the cook made us lunch of soup, naan (flat bread) and tea. The teachers practiced English with us while we ate.

On our last day at Afghans4Tomorrow, we planned to have a party. Male staff were sent to the market to purchase cookies, milk and oranges. Afghan children are not accustomed to drinking milk. Tea or chai is the drink of choice. The men unwittingly returned with a case of several hundred individual-sized cartons of non-dairy creamer.

At the end of the school day, we were invited to visit the families of three of the students. Marcel, Neelb and Nargaz eagerly accompanied us and Safia volunteered to translate. At each home, we visited with parents and siblings and were treated to tea, cookies and candies. The families were appreciative of the opportunity their daughters had to receive an education.

For more of Susan Hall's writings, visit her blog "Greetings from Afghanistan."


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afghanistan, afghan, girl, girl's, school, education, teach, school, Afghans4Tomorrow, A4T,


Anjali Butley

Very nice efforts are put to teach english language to the girls of Afgannistan

الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية

Beautiful photos and stories.
Thank you Susan!


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