Inspired by the likes of Reading Rainbow, a local preschool teacher in Budapest is streaming book readings and sing-along dances for children staying at home during the shutdown.

Denae McGaha, a 25-year-old English teacher hailing from the USA, has been teaching in the city for 2.5 years, and has recently started streaming videos for the students she can no longer see in person. “A few Fridays back, when I read them a bedtime story and blew them kisses, it was our last goodbye and I didn’t even know it,” she says. “But that’s when I got the idea to start English Time With Denae Néni”.

'Denae Néni' is how Hungarians would refer to her at school, she explains, and her goal is to make engaging videos for early ESL learners. “People say that quarantine is a good time to learn a new language!” she adds.

So far, Denae has read the likes of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Duck in the Truck and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? “I choose books that my kids loved back in preschool,” says Denae, “and those which I think are a good level for early ESL language acquisition”. She posts several videos a week to her Facebook page, and these have expanded to include interactive educational videos, and fun sing-along songs and dances.

“It started out just as story time,” explains Denae, “but since I had so much time on my hands, and a bunch of unused lesson plans in my head, I started making these other videos”.

Denae acknowledges that the shutdown is a difficult time, for the students stuck at home and for herself, as well. “The uncertainty is already hard,” she says, “and it’s compounded by being a whole country away from my family. But, at the end of the day, I’m fortunate: I have groceries in the cupboard, a way to keep in contact with family and now, a project to keep me busy. English Time With Denae Néni is just getting started!”