CONGRATULATIONS to all the Challengers on our first six Charity Challenges of 2011, biking from Guatemala to Honduras, the inaugural Nicaragua Volcano Challenge, Brazil's Chapada Diamantina Challenge , Guatemala's first Caribbean Kayak Challenge, Perú´s Cerani Pass and Ecuador's Volcano Challenge. Nicaragua's second volcano Challenge is set for 3rd-6th November and the third Guatemala Volcano Challenge dates are set for 27th November -2nd December.

Click on the following for our most recent official project reports for Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Perú and Brazil.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Excellent results from the English course in Guatemala

The last time Neil blogged about the Guatemala English Teaching Project, we focused on the excellent results our students were now gaining in the subject in the state school tests. This time, we’d like to focus on the results of our own exams. The state school tests vary from school to school, test only grammar, contain no spoken component whatsoever, and may be designed by teachers with very limited English – so at times the results have to be taken with the proverbial pinch of picante.

Although we are obviously delighted that our students put up a very good showing in the April exams – with the vast majority passing with flying colours once again – we feel our own tests provide a more rigorous standard.

Not only do we test grammar, but also the four skills of English, often at a level significantly above that which is expected at school. The results speak for themselves! Across our three levels, average marks were at around 60%, with Santa María’s AM level 2 class significantly upping this with 64%.

Our new approach to Level 3 – content-based learning, where students learn English through subjects such as geography and science – has paid dividends too , with the Tajumulco AM group averaging 67%!

Individually there were some excellent results. Tajumulco’s José Angel came out with a whopping 82% overall, with a number of students – Juan Amilcar, Gricelda Roxana and Eddy Paulino, to name but three – not far behind at around 75%.

In their speaking exams, it was great to see some of these students really communicating for the first time – asking questions, requesting repetition and clarification, and displaying real conversational skills!

In Santa María, the star performers were Marlon David, Sandra Leticia and Miriam Elizabeth (at 77%, 76% and 73% respectively). Once more José Alfredo deserves special mention, coming out with 60% despite having never attended state school in his life. Good on you José!

One interesting pattern has been that some students who are still in primary school did markedly better than their compañeros in secondary, despite the fact that latter have had two or three years more state English tuition!

Rather than use this to once more criticize Guatemalan schooling, we’d rather pay tribute to those individuals for their hard work and commitment – step up Sulmy Asucena, Dania Isabel, Yohanna Isabel and Vilma Lucrecia, you did yourselves proud.

On a more personal note (from Neil), after 10 months of the English project, it was brilliant to see some of the students who struggled at the beginning starting to do very well – in particular Mayra Liliana and the brother-sister combo Pedro Antonio and Maria Isabel.

The latter two were poor attenders at first, Maria on more than one occasion receiving a ticking off for knitting at the back of the class(!) – but now they never miss a lesson, and are keen as mustard!

Finally, a big thank you to Seño Helena, a short-term workshop volunteer, without whom we would not have been able to get through all the examining! And a big welcome to Candy and Aisling, the next long-termers, due to begin their TEFL training as we speak.

And of course well done to all the students – who now number around 120 across both projects. Which would explain the mysterious condition named ‘marker’s wrist’ we’re now suffering…

As a side note, I would like to thank Neil's parents for raising so much money through the GVI Charitable Trust which has allowed us, among other things, to buy brand new chairs for the all the kids in Tajumulco; thanks so much!


Barb Makousky said...

How exciting to hear the program is getting along so successfully! The students have such wonderful attitudes and really do want to learn English. Their enthusiasim and eagerness makes the volunteer experience enjoyable and rewarding.
I think of everyone all the time! Greetings to all.

How does GVI Phoenix make a difference?

The following film was made in Guatemala, though the message is the same across all GVI Phoenix projects