Ultimately, we were only able to arrange for tutoring in Math (through UCR at no cost), and English through MG Capacitacion Professional (at a cost of 25,000 crc per student per month, 12 hours monthly).
Our funding for Saturday tutoring includes the cost of tutoring plus, in some cases, bus/taxi fares and a lunch subsidy for a small group of our most needy students. This significant new investment required us to limit our English tutoring to only the junior and senior level students, and twelve are in classes now. Without funding from our many members and friends of the Community Action Alliance, none of these students would be able to attend tutoring classes.
Math tutoring started last month for some of our students, and we hope UCR will have other math instructors available for the second term to assist more of our students. Also, our students began English tutoring the first of May, for up to six months.
Scott, plus Alisson or Noelia (our program interns), have attended every session since classes began, and Dustin and I recently observed a few of the English tutoring sessions at MG Capacitacion Professional on two Saturdays with our scholarship students. In the three-hour sessions, the students are definitely learning about the grammatical structures of the English language, following the same general teaching methods/materials used by their Colegio teachers. The MEP Colegio emphasis is on writing, reading, and exploring new texts, not on speaking the language.
How You Can Help
One way that we gringos living here in Costa Rica can help with these barriers to learning English proficiently is to consider “adopting” an individual student. Take a student out for lemonade, watch funny videos, go to soccer practice, go to the park, and just spend time together. You don’t need to “teach” English—that is not the point. But, over time as you become friends, it will become more obvious how you can help and not just with English. I can think of numerous examples of expats here in San Ramon who have done just this, and I know from personal experience that this time investment can be a rewarding and mutually satisfying experience. As you speak English to them (and probably a bit of Spanish as well), they will have ample opportunities to hear and speak our language.
“How would I initially meet one of these students?” you ask. Once per semester, we have the perfect opportunity to meet new and returning students one-on-one when Alisson or Noelia interview them and their parents. CAA members are always encouraged to attend these sessions to get to know the students. I have personally had the satisfaction of becoming close to at least three of our students and their families over my years here (the families are always included), and this has been as satisfying to me as any part of my life here in my adopted country. I can definitely verify that it is well worth the effort and I encourage your participation.
Please contact one of the Education Committee members or Scott McAnally if you want to discuss how to participate with our educational scholarship program students.
~Marian Latham, CAA Education Committee
If you would like to contribute financially to our San Ramón students who need your help to be successful in school, go to www.globalgiving.org/18714