Story by Andy Healy and Photos by Kim Groves and Julia Turnbull
How I got into teaching English with En Vía was really straightforward. Living in Oaxaca, I wanted to do something useful. I searched Google for “voluntary work in Oaxaca” and here I am.
Twice a week, a small group of us head out to Teoltitlán to teach English for a couple of hours. As a rule there are five teaching groups: the children make up three groups and the adults two.
I teach the entry class for our adult learners. I have been doing this twice a week for just over four months now. My first week out to Teotitlán, I observed the classes and assisted the teacher with the group I was going to take over.
My group size is fairly stable with eight very good attendees and a few, what you might call floaters, who might float in, or not, as their circumstances demand. That`s not to underestimate the commitment required for these ladies to find four hours a week in which to attend class. The curriculum is focused clearly on the immediate business needs of the ladies, delivered flexibly, and is responsive to the needs of these learners. Essentially the aim for my group is to be able to communicate at a simple level with any and all English speaking customers and hopefully succeed in selling their wares. That`s a very measurable outcome from their perspective.
Classes tend to be fun for both teacher and learners, as my Spanish is best described as appalling; there is much gesturing and pantomime. Whilst the ladies, on the other hand, are fluent in Spanish yes, it`s not their first language. That’s Zapotec. Thus getting the ladies to be confident and speak up in English is a major objective. From start to finish, it’s all a bit of a giggle, really.
At the end of every session the ladies thank me for being their teacher and in return I thank them. I certainly mean what I say, and believe they do as well. Then it’s home to Oaxaca for a bite to eat and a couple of beers.
To say that these sessions are amongst the most rewarding teaching experiences I have ever had the pleasure of would not be too far short of the mark. If you get the chance, you should come and join us; details on the main website http://www.envia.org.