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The English Program at Safe Passage empowers learners from ages 2 through 22 with English language skills that will help them in their current studies and towards their exciting futures. During the daily 30-minute classes, English Teachers engage students using a variety of exciting games, art projects, multimedia projects, and other fun activities. Many of our older students are conversant in English and regularly practice their new English phrases with visitors and volunteers. Our goal in the English Program is to prepare our students for the English classes taught at their schools, to pass English entrance exams to Guatemalan universities, and to take on English-speaking professions.
The English Program consists of 5 full-time English teachers, an English Program Coordinator, and occasionally, short-term English volunteers. Safe Passage English teachers come from a variety of educational and cultural backgrounds and many different countries- the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Australia, and Spain, to name a few. Our teachers commit to 6 months with us in the English Program but many decide to stay longer, a common tendency among Safe Passage volunteers!
Our Curriculum – What are we teaching?
After a year of cataloging dynamic lesson plans and consulting with ESL experts, the Safe Passage English Program is launching a new curriculum for the 2012 school year. We have developed 6 culturally sensitive and thematically relevant units that we hope will inspire student interest and learning. During each unit, students will learn and review key vocabulary and grammatical concepts for five weeks and will use the sixth week to work on a project where they will apply what they've learned. We believe strongly that students will gain confidence and competence through this new unit-based system.
The students in the main building will be learning vocabulary and grammar contextualized within the following units: All About Me, My Schedule, My Health, and Practical Math. For the older students, we designed a professional skills unit where students will talk about their career aspirations, set professional goals, and develop a resume that they can hand out to potential employers.
Connections for the Future – Where are we going?
The English Team at Camino will be focusing on developing the nascent curriculum while integrating technology and multimedia into the classroom. Coming from an urban background, our students interact with media constantly. We are hoping to engage our students with video clips, graphic novels, and interactive websites that will allow them to practice their English while also developing important computer and social media skills.
Over the past year, the Camino English Team has been supporting the growth and development of English programs in and around Antigua, Guatemala. While the communities that we all serve differ, we are united in our commitment to our students' education and confident that speaking English can expand the job opportunities available to our graduates. In visiting these other educational non-profits, we realize that the English Program at Safe Passage has a wealth of resources to share and that, in collaborating, we receive valuable input and information in return. Over the next year, we will be sharing the curriculum we have developed with these organizations and hope that by working together we can improve how English language instruction and acquisition here at Safe Passage, and beyond.