Teaching English language classes was not part of our plan when we considered project goals for our service. So, when a woman inquired about English classes for her daughter, I asked her to send her daughter to speak to me, thinking that would be the end of it.
It wasn’t long before Zoila approached us, asking for help. She explained that she was enrolled in an English class at the colegio. The problem was, however, that her teacher didn’t actually know how to speak English. Instruction consisted of copying sentences in English from the blackboard, silently. Zoila knew she needed to hear the language and actually practice speaking to learn English.
|Practicing English and making Bean Burgers|
So… that is how our Conversational English class began, from our house, 6 hours per week, 4 committed students. We talk a lot, study new vocabulary by theme, use sentence frames to prompt conversation, and focus on forms and functions. This energetic group of 16-18 year-olds don’t hesitate to laugh at each other and themselves, as they practice aloud and improve with each session. They decided to commit to 100 hours of instruction/practice, after which, we will be authorized to provide them official certificates issued by the SNPP, (Servicio Nacional de Promocion Professional), under the Paraguayan Ministry of Justice and Work.
|Other Projects- making glass planters and earrings, while practicing English|
It wasn’t long before younger siblings and other kids took note of the English classes. Now Mark also teaches a class for younger kids. They have so much fun learning and “acting out the words”, no one wants the class to end!
|Mark's English Class|
We know this project is not sustainable. When we leave Arazape, the classes will end. But being the only English speakers in our town, how could we refuse to help these kids? And who knows? Helping them gain some English skills may even give them a leg up on preparing for the university or getting a better job.