Yesterday, part of our group spent the day leading English classes. Many of the ones teaching these classes are teachers in Canada or at teacher’s college, but some were in other university programs.
They started the morning with classes for elementary school kids at Cristo Rey school. This week is a holiday in Peru so our group is running a one-week English camp for the students. The kids were shy in front of these foreigners but over the course of the hour and a half lesson started to open up. Next it was English classes for secondary school kids. Like high school kids anywhere, some were self-conscious about their abilities and their appearance in front of their friends. Still, the volunteer teachers found creative ways to engage them and earn their respect.
Cristo Rei is a relatively well-off private school in Lima. It has three stories, the paint looks fresh and the classrooms are well-stocked with materials. Seventy percent of the students pay to attend the school and 30% are sponsored by the owners of the school, the San Francis family. The director indicated that the school has two priorities for which they are currently fundraising. First and foremost, they need an English computer lab to help their children learn the language better through games and online activities. They hope to get about 25 computers for this new lab. The secondary priority is a library. When asked why the library was considered less important than an English computer lab, he explained that English has become a necessity for his students in order for them to be successful in business and government nationally and internationally. He also explained the importance of these students having an understanding of technology. There exists a government program to ensure that all children use a computer at least once a month for each of the subjects they are taking at school. The English lab and the government program for computer use are both a stark contrast from the school in the nearby shantytown Pacifico de Villa where no running water and overpopulation are the major issues at hand.
In the afternoon, these volunteer teachers headed to another location where we held English classes for adults. Some of the adults were English teachers already so their lessons focused largely on teaching techniques that they can use with their classes. Others were beginners and before the end of the lesson had learned their ABCs, Twinkle Tinkle Little Star and Head and Shoulders. The majority of the class was women, and many indicated at the outset of the class that they were interested in learning English for their children – including songs, words, conversations and more that would help their kids learn English better.
More excitement is on the agenda for today!