It’s incredible to think that there are about 1.75 billion people worldwide who can speak English at a useful level. Many of these people learn the language with the help of a teacher or language programme. But there are other ways that people are spreading the English language – and many of them are volunteers. Here, we take a look at some of them…
Peace Corps in Costa Rica
More than 3,000 volunteers from the Peace Corps of the United States have served in Costa Rica over the past 50 years. The latest group of 30 young helpers has been sworn in to teach English in various schools and colleges across the country for the next two years.
The volunteers are professionals who graduated in subjects ranging from education and linguistics to business administration and psychology. The programme they are taking part in seeks to improve the linguistic and methodological skills of teachers and raise the level in the use of language by students.
When El Salvador native Zoila Yohanna Regalado arrived in Maryland at the age of 11, she spoke very little English. But supported by classes in English as a second language at school, determined Zoila soon picked up the language. Now 18 years old, Zoila is ranked academically within the top 15% of her senior class at Annapolis High – and she’s decided to help others learn English.
Zoila assists instructor Marcianna Rodriguez, Chair of Annapolis High’s International Academy in the classroom. Marcianna is tutor at the Community Plaza Adult and Peer Literacy Project, a free adult education programme that teaches basic English reading and writing skills. The literacy project is based at the evening school at Annapolis High and Zoila helps out on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.
Teaching English through dance
Dawn Mann travelled across the world as a volunteer to teach English to Vietnamese students, but it was in a dance studio where their English began to flow.
During the evenings, Dawn taught ballet to locals and noticed that, as they learned the dance steps, they also picked up conversational English. This observation led her to use dance as a teaching tool, boosting students’ self-confidence while practising a foreign language. When she returned to the United States, Dawn founded Dance Another World, a non-profit organisation that uses dance to teach English to children from low socio-economic status communities.
Dog spreading the English language
Some students at a school in New York City gained some four-legged help in learning English as a second language. The school works with the Reading Education Assistance Dogs (READ) programme to ease the challenges and pressures young students can face.
Izzy is a grey Havanese (a breed of Bichon) and has worked with 15 children, ranging from kindergarten to third grade, to help them feel more comfortable and secure during their English lessons. Many of the students’ families emigrated from Latin America and were learning English as a second language. Thanks to Izzy, nearly all of the students who were originally below their grade reading level reached or surpassed it.
Third-grader Aelane Vasquez said: “I loved reading to Izzy because he listened to me and didn’t make fun of me when I made a mistake.”