By Lisseth Potosme, Program Director
In Nicaragua, fluency in English is a powerful career and life enhancer. With the support of the Nicaragua-Canada Empowerment Fund (NCEF), a newly formed Canadian nonprofit that was created to specifically support our programs, we were able to launch an internal English program. (In the past we sent our students to an offsite English Academy which had a set of challenges due to distance, cost and quality). Kassidy, a TEFL-trained teacher from Canada, came on the behalf of NCEF to initiate this. The first week she evaluated each student who applied to this program and determined their English level.
Fifty-eight students were selected by their academic average and by their skills in reading and writing Spanish. Each week the lesson plans for the initial level contained diverse interactive content including outdoor games and one hour of language practice in the computer lab.
For the first time, English was also formally taught in the rural community of Santa Ana where the opportunity was eagerly embraced. The rural community children love learning English; they study each lesson with all their heart and assimilate the contents quickly. Although Santa Ana is not equipped to do computer language labs, the children have still learned a lot. Their parents are delighted that their children are learning to speak a second language which is very rare in the community.
In our Granada urban communities, the children have also made great progress. Here we also enhanced the program by adding swimming lessons as a reward for academic effort. NCEF has chosen to support this program as well. Swimming is a life skill that many in Nicaragua do not have, so it serves as an incentive as well as adding to their safety. The children are proud to be able to participate in this program as a reward for their academic effort, and the other children who still need to improve academically are now more motivated to get good grades so they too can join this coveted program.
Our goal in the English program is that the children and teenagers advance through different English levels and reach fluency in speaking, writing, reading, and comprehension. Nicaragua is a country with great potential not only for tourism but also for manufacturing and call centers and we are preparing the students to have an edge in the local job market and for the upcoming global marketplace.
If you would like to become a remote virtual volunteer and add supplemental practice for some of our more advanced English students, please contact us via email. firstname.lastname@example.org.