In her eighth and final diary entry, Shiriin Barakzai signs off from the beautiful Kingdom of Bhutan - she is off to explore new horizons. Her diary entries will be sorely missed here on onestopenglish, but she leaves us with some charming anecdotes to keep us going!


I’ve been taking it easy on grammar and trying to have some fun with my classes, as I only have a few more weeks of teaching left. So, I made a Scrabble game using beer bottle tops and traditional fabric, and took four sets up to Nalanda. To play the game, I split the students into mixed teams from Classes A and B. I also supplied them with a few dictionaries, including the Dzongkha–English dictionary.

As you might expect for first-time players, there was some confusion about words that read bottom-up or leftwards, but I thought it would be easier to just let them play and advise when things went awry.

We’ve been a little lax with some rules, such as the use of plurals, but we did insist on not using acronyms. I also wondered if we should allow the use of the Dzongkha words used in everyday English, but so far this hasn’t come up very often. As the whole idea is quite new, I have allowed each student to use the dictionary when playing. However, this involves trying to get them to make sure they remember the meaning of the words rather than just questioning their existence.

The monks caught on to the whole idea quite quickly, but scoring is still a little confusing and they’re not really competitive enough for it to matter at this stage. Some of them are also less fussy about checking whether a word added by another team actually exists, so when I look over their shoulders they sometimes have to remove the words that are spelt wrong. But rather than being fussed about whose word it was and all the rest of it, they just give the letters back. If that team then has too many letters, we just put them back!

So, as a parting gift, I’ve left the monks the four Scrabble sets and I hope they will be able to find some time to play on their own. I also hope their new teacher will enjoy playing with them as much as I have!