Words and photographs by Heather L. Hutcheson
For the past few summers, I have had the opportunity to volunteer as a teacher for the free English classes offered by Fundación En Vía through their responsible tourism program. As an English professor at a community college, I enjoy the opportunity to engage the children of En Vía borrowers in fun activities designed to make the language come alive. The youth participants in Tlacochahuaya consistently say they like learning English, and I try to make sure they have fun while learning.
As a part of our English classes, we created our own grocery stores. All we needed was a shopping basket brimming with plastic pears, grapes, apples, bell peppers, lemons, corn, carrots and onions, along with one egg and a stash of play money. Each of the students started with 1,500 pesos in pretend money and an armload of simulated produce. After learning words such as sweet, delicious, sour, bitter and juicy, they each made a sign for their own store. Their goal was to make a profit in their business.
One student named Abi used the existing store of her family as a guideline for the project, and assigned her simulated business the same name. Another student named Miguel said he wanted to sell a box of tomatoes. I reminded him that he had neither a box nor tomatoes. He did have one banana and his book bag. He decided to offer this as “sack of banana”, and with this, one banana in a blue bag = 200 pesos! I was pleased with his mastery of the singular and plural rules during this exercise. A student named David worked tirelessly on his sales strategy. He decided that he wanted to add his own bag of chips to the mix. He sold individual chips for 1,000 pesos each, and the others flocked to his market to exhaust their fake money on his “real” food. Given this, he won the game as he managed to secure the most profit.
This activity taught them about colors, flavors, fruit and vegetable names, how much, how many, marketing strategies and more. Plus, they now know how to use the word thousand to count their piles of fake money. All in all, a great success!