Here you can read about Patty’s unique take on helping local kid’s learn English.
By Patty Chang Anker.
“Speak up,” Sheyla says. She is addressing the children, but it makes me want to stand straighter and enunciate more clearly. We are participating in the Words Adventure, a program Michael S. Kaye developed in Tortuguero, Costa Rica to teach English to local kids after school. Sheyla is big-hearted, warm and commanding. She expects a lot from her students. When I marvel at their dedication for coming 6 days a week, Sheyla states matter-of-factly, “It used to be 7.”
Guests of Costa Rica Expeditions’s Tortuga Lodge can volunteer as many times as they like during their stay. I had wondered if a revolving door of faces and regional accents would bewilder the students, but they (ranging in age from 9 – 14) are wholly accepting of us as we lead them through vocabulary exercises.
Thankfully, their materials are more up-to-date than the 1970s workbooks I used the last time I volunteered to teach English to Chinese immigrants. It was back in the 1990s, but still, teaching Mr. Yang to say “Hey there Foxy Lady, what’s happenin’?” seemed downright cruel.
Here it is simple enough, dialogue like “Is Howard fat?” “No, Howard is thin.” “Is Annie pretty?” “Yes she is pretty.” Cheryl brings gifts of Sillybandz, Jennifer offers Canadians stickers. We take pictures, everyone is happy.
Then it hits me. These kids live in a remote village you can’t even get to by car. All around is water. Yet, through this program, they are exposed to people from all over the world. And are told to speak up.
The first time I visited China with my parents it was as if my mother, who I always thought of as shy, blossomed into three dimensions in front of me. In her own language she’s funny, witty, strong. She lit up the room.
If these kids can speak up in a language not their own with strangers, they will light up every room they enter with confidence and grace.
So listen up. In a rainforest schoolyard Genive, Hector, Maciel, Melanie, Darnely, Valery, Elgin and Pamela are studying their hearts out. One day, they’re going to take on the world. I can’t wait to hear what they have to say.Sillybandz, Universal Fun If you are enjoying Patty’s posts and have not done so already, don’t forget to vote for her blog on Babble.com’s Top Mom Blog List. All you have to do is go tohttp://www.babble.com/babble-50/mommy-bloggers/nominate-a-blogger scroll down to “Facing Forty Upside Down,” and click on .
Last Thursday Patty was number 33. On Tuesday she was number 30. She is now (Jan 6, 1:37 pm CST) number 28. If just 60 of the people reading this vote for her, “Vacation Time is Precious Nation,” will have busted her into the Top 20. I’ll be reporting on Patty’s progress in future posts. One other thing, they don’t say when the voting ends, so please vote right away.
In her next post, Patty will tell you how to face your fears while flying in a small plane. Hint: When the plane is taking off lift your feet.