On July 23rd I will leave America to embark on what I hope will be an extraordinary life adventure. For the next six months I will be living in the Big North Region of Chile called Antofagasta. Here I will spend my days planting English School programs with to local teachers as a volunteer through a program called English Opens Doors run by the Chilean Ministry of Education working jointly with the United Nations Development Programme. The program was set up because of the significance of the ability to communicate in English in a globalizing world. I am thrilled to experience South America and its culture while helping Chilean students to learn the English language and a bit of our culture.
English Opens Doors began in 2003. There are about 350 volunteers throughout Chile during the year. 65 teachers participate in the four month program. The main objective of the program is to provide motivation to the students by teaching a base of the English language and culture that will give students the drive to continue to learn English.
In Chile there is a great need for English teachers. Even greater than this, is the demand for these teachers to be in practice of speaking the English language. Meaning, many teachers have knowledge of the language through textbook learning but do not actually ever speak English through dialogue with another native English speaker. By putting native English speakers in the classroom the perception of English is changed from a subject to something real. By being here it is my hope to get students involved in dialogue and understand the real world need to speak English while also learning about the American culture. I will do my best to represent the country I am so proud to call home!
Beyond this I want to help revolutionize teaching English as a foreign language. In school, I struggled greatly with foreign language. Foreign language classes were taught with a basis of conjugation and grammar. In recent years it has become understood that this approach may not be the most effective style. It is my personal belief that English as a foreign language must be taught through dialogue. With this teaching style I hope to make learning English more practical for my students.
I have a very difficult task set before me. I hope that you will enjoy my blog. I am excited to share my experiences with you. While I am away I would appreciate support through your thoughts and prayers. I will be so grateful for this! Thank you.
And so it begins….