December 09, 2015
First of all sorry for the silence from here, it´s not that we have been relaxing on the beach and enjoying the beauty of this country – it´s the exact opposite, or we do enjoy the beatuy of it but we do work as well! There has been a lot going on here regarding the English project! The last post treated the new mini project, giving classes in the two public schools Los Zorros and The school of Jiquillio. The plan was to give 3 classes a week in the two schools but in mid-November the other English teacher left so I have been alone giving classes in the schools and at the container. This have resulted in a lot of planning, puzzling and hunting down students.
I have been giving 2 classes a week to both of the schools. 2 hours of English class a week is not a lot, but at least it is something. The main reason for doing this was to raise the awareness but also to inform of the importance of learning English, particularly for the 6th graders who are all going to secondary next year were there will be English classes. The classes have been fun and rewarding both for me and for them, but it has been a challenge. To be more precise, the motivation to go to school every day is not very high among many of the students, and sometimes not among the teachers either. Many days I have arrived at the schools finding absolutely no-one, and on my way back being informed by some student playing around that they finished class early, the teacher didn´t come, the teachers had a meeting (there have been many meetings!) or some other excuse. This have been very frustrating, but it is what it is. It have resulted in that I have left to give class 2 hours earlier to surprise them and asking “Can I please give an English class today, since we didn´t have one yesterday?” and so on. That have worked several times!
Another thing is the attendance in school. The class in Los Zorros have 29 students and in Jiquillio 31 students, I have never had a full class. Normally there are between 10-20 students, but I have also somedays given class to 5 students. The reasons for their absence are as many as there are days in a year, but I have found out some of the main reasons talking to parents, students and teachers. It can be that the students have to help their parents at home, they are tired and don´t want to and the parents don’t really force them to go, they are “sick” etc. The pattern I have identified and also what the teachers told me is that school is not that important for the parents, and then neither for the kids. Why study if it only costs money (the school is for free, BUT food and school material isn’t!) and you can earn great money fishing? This way of thinking is normal and it goes deep and way back in generations, of course not everyone think like this, there are many devoted parents and students, but they are not the majority.
Last week I did an evaluation with all the students (35 students in total from both schools) about the English classes, what they think about the importance of English, why and if they want to learn and if they would like to have English as a part of their curriculum. All 35 students think that English is very important, in order to have a better future, to get good grades in Secondary, to have a career as a doctor, architect, lawyer or working in tourism and they all want to learn! It is such a shame that there is no funding in order to have a permanent English teacher in the two schools since the students obviously are eager to learn. Even though we have the English Academy (the container) offering free English classes many students answered this why they don’t come is because it´s too far away or their parents won´t let them or that they don´t have time due to normal school. That´s why English classes in school would be the perfect solution.
Last week was the last week of school before the Christmas holidays and I attended two parents meeting, one in each school. I got invited/invited myself by the teachers to talk to the parents about the English Academy, the courses, how we work and the importance of English. There were about 20 parents attending in each school and they seemed interested and asked a lot of questions. Also the teachers backed me up when informing about the importance of learning English and what it could mean for their children in the future. We also talked about the opportunity of taking English classes at the container, the classes are for free and it is rather close! I do hope that all this information motivated the parents to send their children to English class during the holidays.
This was a rather long update and summary of the motivation project that I have been doing the last few weeks, and I would love to show some pictures, BUT no one is allowed to take photos of the students while in school, so sorry for that. Please leave some comments or ask me anything if you have any wonder anything!
Stay tuned for more updates!