It’s tough to have language classes once a week for seven weeks, coming out of nowhere and ending as abruptly as they begin. This year our English classes are supposed to culminate in some sort of final evaluation or exam of our own design that will be worth 25% of each student’s grade. But how to meaningfully teach a language when total class time will never exceed fifteen hours? The students get English class year round, but the facilitators who teach it don’t themselves speak English, and the books they’re given are such a joke as to be hardly worth the trees chopped down to make them (in my opinion). Our classes are entirely apart, based on what the students express interest in learning and what we think is important to know about our native language, but the follow-up to the classes we give is negligible. It’s easy, I know because I’ve done it, to fall into a what’s-the-point-then attitude about it all. Surely some English class is better than nothing, but considering how much English will in the end be taught and retained and be of use to the students, is it worth all the effort put in by the students to trek all the way to class, by FIPAH to host us and arrange our transportation, by us to come and organize and teach these classes?
This is damn frustrating to think about, but also not the whole story. It can’t be, or else no one would make the effort; the students wouldn’t make the trek, FIPAH wouldn’t host us, we wouldn’t come here to organize and teach. There’s a lot of value in the classes, but I think the bulk of it lies elsewhere. Somewhere beyond conjugating regular verbs in the present, or maybe somewhere between everyone’s showing up each week and playing soccer together after class. What that value is exactly I don’t know; it’s got to be different for everyone involved but even for my own part I have a hard time talking coherently about what this experience means to me. If this project is going to continue in years to come, which I hope and expect it will, vale la pena, it’s worth the trouble, to have these discussions, to articulate those things which are the most valuable and important, and rework/remodel/reframe the project’s goals and structure with that in mind.
No conclusion here, there’s still a lot of questions to be asked and thinking to be done. I just want to wrap up this post by saying how very lucky I feel to be doing this all again. Even the downest, most frustrating moments here have been a pleasure, because of the people around me and because of the boatloads I’m learning. Here’s to three more short exciting weeks.
P.S. Mary and Zan tied the baleada competition with an even 20—we’ve got two new Yorito legends on our hands!
Notice: Use of undefined constant AKISMET__PLUGIN_URL - assumed 'AKISMET__PLUGIN_URL' in /home3/nourish1/public_html/home/wp-content/plugins/akismet/class.akismet.php on line 845