‘¿Quien quiere aprender inglés?’ The simple answer to that question is everyone in our English classes that are held four nights a week in El Farito. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the English program that is run through MPI Nicaragua, we teach five different levels where students are put into a certain level based on their English ability.
Coming down to Nicaragua, I knew that I would be teaching English as there were only 8 PDs and there were 10 spots that needed to be filled. Currently, I teach Level 3 alongside Kayla (another PD) every Monday and Wednesday night from 5:30 – 6:30. When we were first planning the schedule for the semester, I was a bit intimidated because Level 3 may be one of the hardest, if not the hardest level to teach as it has a strong focus on teaching many different tenses. Not only that, but we had to transition from teaching the class in Spanish with some English to only English. Now that was a challenge in itself. Our class had some difficulties with the transition, but after teaching only in English since the beginning of October, I am happy to say that it has really benefitted our students as they are able to listen to Kayla and I talk, and practice hearing the pronunciation of certain words.
Initially I thought that English was just going to be just another one of the programs that I worked with. Little did I know in August that English would become the program that I was most passionate about. Week after week, I would put hours into planning for our classes, ensuring that Kayla and I were using different methods of teaching the lessons. From exercises involving listening, speaking, writing, and reading, we were really able to reinforce so many of the topics that we were teaching. MPI Nicaragua has also created Friday tutoring sessions to assist those students in any level who may want some extra help. I think this has been a great resource for Level 3 as tutoring is almost always made up of 80% Level 3 students, so me going there every week has proved beneficial for both my students and me. Might I also add that Kayla has been an awesome co-teacher, and we have really worked well together to create the greatest success for all of our students.
Speaking of our students, I think they are the reason why English has become such a strong focus for me in terms of my programs. Since the beginning of our semester I have made it my mission to form relationships with my students because I wanted to come off more as a friend and an equal, instead of trying to make it seem like I was the teacher and that was it. I even started going into the community an hour earlier each Monday and Wednesday before class so that I could spend time with my students! Just making myself available and sitting around talking with my students has been a really positive experience, and has allowed me to create strong friendships. Because of this, I have done a lot of things with my students outside of class. I have traveled to the movies and market with a couple students. I have eaten dinner and had a community homestay with the family of some of my students. I have even received a haircut from one of the guys in my class. This weekend, Kayla and I are planning on going to the beach with a lot of students from our class and their families. Everyone is really excited, and it will be a great way to hang out and not worry about adverbs, adjectives, and tenses.
One thing that has come out of these relationships, and is something that I will always remember from my time in Nicaragua, was a surprise party for my birthday at Friday tutoring. My students planned all of it. Yes, they decided who was going to bring the ice cream and soda, and then made sure to invite everyone in our class. I was utterly shocked when I arrived to tutoring that Friday, and it was so gratifying to know that I had friends in Nicaragua who I had only known for two and a half months who cared about making sure that my birthday was celebrated right! What can I say, my students are the absolute best!
Long story short, I absolutely love the English program here. It has allowed me to make (and see) an impact, as well as form friendships that would not have been formed had it not been for Level 3. That being said, thank you Manna Project for doing so much to not only better the lives and opportunities of our students, but also every Program Director!