We're several weeks into the school year now and during this time we've learned quite a bit about what it looks like to teach here.
1. We seem to find out things on a need-to-know basis.
1. We seem to find out things on a need-to-know basis.
2. If we need copies or materials, we have to go to a copy shop and print whatever we've created on our computer and make copies for our students. If we ever received a receipt, I suppose we could turn it into the secretary to get reimbursed.
3. The students (and parents) need 8 school days to prepare for coming tests. Therefore, study outlines must be given according to this time guideline, lest the parents complain that their children didn't have adequate study time.
4. If we need scissors, glue, paper, etc, the student is responsible for buying it and bringing it to school. This also requires several days notice.
5. Teachers here are called "nia/ni o" which actually means "child," but in our classes we pretend we're in the United States and the students call us Mr. and Mrs. Savage. (I'm getting more used to being called a "Mr." however, primarily and randomly by the 1st graders, who have a hard time distinguishing between the two words).
6. They are just so cute in their little uniforms! :)
|Shiwai, our little perfectionist|
As for what our roles look like at the school, here's an overview. We teach English and Science in English (they have Science in Spanish too) three days a week at the Centro Educativo Bautista del Caribe aka the Baptist School. The school is a ministry of the
New Hope Baptist Church here, and the Pastor of the church is also the Director at the school. (Director is the equivalent to principal.) It's a growing ministry still, with about 60 students from pre-kinder to 6th grade. We get to spend our time with three of the grades: 1st, 2nd, and 6th. We spend most of our time with the 7 2nd graders (Argelyn, Denskel, Riggionnie, Aaliyah, Yuliana, Rieshly, and Shiwai-yes it took time to learn their unique names), since we teach them over the course of all 3 days. I only get to see the 11 adorable 1st graders once a week, while Chris is molding the minds of the 4 6th graders for the same amount of time.
Monday- 3 periods of 2nd grade English (Jenn)
Tuesday- 3 periods 2nd grade English (Jenn)
Thursday- 2 periods of 2nd grade English (Jenn)
2 periods of 2nd grade Science (Chris)
2 periods of 1st grade Science (Jenn)
2 periods of 6th grade Science (Chris)
|Planting seeds during Science|
Thursday is obviously our longest day and the only day we're there during lunch. Sometimes we eat there to experience the local food. Just to help you picture the situation, the cafeteria is different than in the States and is more like a Canteen. In fact, it's like a mix between a typical restaurant here and a snack stand. They serve breakfast and lunch to those students and teachers who buy it and don't bring food from home. They also are open during the morning and afternoon recess to sell chips, drinks, green mangoes in vinegar and salt (a common snack here), and other random munchies. They eat in their classrooms
at their desks unless their parent comes to eat with them at one of the 2 tables in front.
|La Soda aka Cafeteria & Snack Shop|
So, now that you have a general idea of the school situation, why exactly are we here doing this?? How is God using us at the school? Why do the students here need to learn English? Why isn't someone else teaching it to them if it's so necessary? One question at a time.
Why exactly are we here doing this and how is God using us here?
The school doesn't have sufficient funds to even break even currently, and hiring another teacher to teach English and Science in English is out of the question. Last year the Director taught both of these subjects, but confessed that he simply does not have the time or experience needed for the position. By volunteering here, we're saving the school money and providing the students with the opportunity to learn English from native speakers and a certified teacher, and Biology from a Biologist. It's truly amazing how God brought this opportunity to us, matching our skills and desires with a definite need. Not only are we in Costa Rica learning all about the culture and, honestly, gaining a better appreciation of the many opportunities and privileges we left in the States, but we're also able to serve with our time, resources, experiences, knowledge, and even our presence. I'm getting to teach while using Spanish and Chris is getting field experience in teaching Biology before he completes his Master's Degree in teaching back in the States.
|Bring technology to them: Watching a video of a seed growing.|
We were wondering the same thing until a conversation we had yesterday shed some more light on the subject. It started our with a question about tourists and how the locals view them. We found out that people here really like tourists because they recognize that tourism is currently their #1 income. Based on this they are figuring out how to bring income into their homes, and one way to do that is selling things on the streets and being able to converse with tourists, which often requires English. By teaching the children English they are learning a skill that will help them open doors all throughout their lives. The skill of being bilingual is very valuable and the school is striving to provide their students with a bilingual education.
|Denskel- "Give a hug, sugar love." :D|
If we weren't the ones teaching English, it would be the Director or another volunteer that came to them to serve. The students do know some English already, although it is very limited. They have memorized some phrases, such as when you ask them how they are, they respond with, "Fine, thanks, and you?" in the cutest accent ever. However, I found out that even if I asked them what their name was I got the same, "Fine, thanks, and you?" response. :) Needless to say, they have a lot to learn. I'm attempting to teach them more conversational English because they struggle the most with speaking and won't respond verbally even if they know the answer. I'm also focusing on practical words and conversation pieces that will be most helpful to them in real life outside the classroom. Furthermore, they are hearing English spoken by a native speaker, that is when I'm not re-explaining things in Spanish, which is quite different than listening to English spoken with a Jamaican accent. Like we've mentioned, we even have a tough time understanding that dialect of English. Hopefully their listening and comprehension will improve as well as their level of proficiency in speaking.
In English class we're progressing with parts of the body, commands, commons words that start with A, B, or C, family members, shapes, and so much more. In Science we've been learning the five senses and I think we've said "We see with our eyes, we taste with our tongues, we smell with our nose, etc." more times in the last two weeks than in our entire lives. It's okay though, because the whole time we're slowly saying this, I'm being intently stared at by the cutest 11 grinning faces of the concentrating 1st graders. Chris is teaching the scientific method and the characteristics that constitute life to the 4 6th graders. If anyone can email Chris and tell him why fire is not alive, you'll win a prize (he claims).
|Learning shapes in English-showing off the "circle."|