children's english program (CeP)

Project Objective: 

  • To give children ages six to twelve of the Costalegre area a vital jumpstart in acquiring bilingual (Spanish/English) skills. 
  • To create an effective, culturally relevant and affordable book and language program that meets the Mexican government-required learning standards and incorporates high-impact learning strategies, including multiple intelligence, mindfulness practices, and the natural language learning methodology. 

Why is it Important?

In the past, the children of our service area faced many obstacles in learning English as a second language. To begin with, the state-mandated English program begins in middle school—when they are already 13-14 years old—with textbooks that contain significant errors and assume prior language instruction. The classes are taught by local teachers, many of whom speak limited or no English.

Living in a highly touristic destination (the most thriving industry in the area), the children of Costalegre stand to benefit enormously from developing bilingual skills. English language ability expands their career and higher education opportunities, enabling them to become productive and successful members of their communities. The sooner a child is exposed to a second language, the easier and faster it is for them to learn. As such, the Careyes Foundation joined with La Catalina Foundation to produce our Beyond Borders English curriculum designed specifically for early language learners in a rural area. This means that the program follows a learning curve that is typical of underserved rural schools rather than relying on the standardized benchmarks.

Why publish our own English books? After conducting extensive international research, we came to the conclusion that no affordable texts existed that were appropriate for elementary school students and employed an effective instructional methodology for children who live in a rural environment. We have now published four sets of teacher's guides and workbooks and will complete our custom Beyond Borders series by August 2019, at which time each grade level (2nd-6th) will have its own curriculum. Since September 2015, our volunteer teachers have been using this book to provide free English courses in eleven local elementary schools through our Children's English Program. 

natural language learning

Our English curriculum and teaching philosophy is based on the concept of natural language learning. This method mimics the way children learn their primary language: subconsciously by listening, seeing, and experiencing a language through multiple modes of apprehension. Over the course of a single third-grade lesson, students sing along with the Beatles, color following oral instructions, read short biographies aloud and write their own—ensuring students receive a variety of language input and engaging a range of learning styles. Moreover, each lesson is intended to be a mini immersion experience, with the teacher using the minimum amount of Spanish necessary to convey information and maintain classroom discipline.

 Julie Catton Amezcua (Masters in Education Director and co-founder of La Catalina Natural Language School) has spent over 10 years teaching English by this natural method to public school children and local adults in La Manzanilla and has shared with us her experience and understanding of its implementation. La Catalina has further tested the natural language learning methodology through pilot programs with the employees of Blue Bay Resort and students at the University of Londres, in Mexico City. With the help of Julie and her team of bilingual educators and psychologists, we conducted extensive field research to help produce our custom-made English curriculum. We hope that these books will eventually be a reference for other rural zones of Mexico and Central America. 

Project materials:

  • Student Workbooks
  • Teachers Guides
  • Supplementary materials: 
    • Songs
    • Group Learning Activities
    • Teacher Read Aloud Story Books
    • Art Extension Activities which reinforce English-language concepts
    • Challenge Activities for advanced students
    • Recorded readings (for when non-native English teachers are giving the classes)

TIMELINE

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