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Tourism and English Education: Developing a community together through learning

8 students.

10 months.

40 days.

80 hours.

15 grammar topics covered.

Countless opportunities gained.

Due to the generosity of the Bill Cook Foundation, 18 students have the opportunity to participate in an English class connected directly to their daily lives and needs through the Ocotal Rural Tourism English Program. These students live about 20km outside of El Sauce in Los Altos de Ocotal. This mountain getaway/vacation spot is their home and also their livelihood. The Ocotal tourism cooperative provides lodging and tours for those seeking some cool fresh air throughout the year, and these students often interact with English speaking visitors. By participating in the English program, students are obtaining invaluable skills that will be used to bolster their tourism cooperative and the surrounding community.

Each Monday, 8 students arrive to the local high school to receive English classes catered to their lives and business. Maria Alejandra commands the classroom, expecting the best from her students. Her students range from 14 to 22 years old. Alejandra herself has found a grand opportunity in teaching these English classes…

“It has been a great experience for me to be an English teacher in Los Altos the Ocotal, because I have had the opportunity to spend time with children and teenagers that want to learn English. One of the greatest challenges that I've faced while trying to teach them is how to use pronouns in English correctly since their knowledge is less than a beginner. However, their enthusiasm encourages me to continue helping them improve their pronunciation.

I love being a teacher, because it not just about teaching my knowledge about English. I also teach them values, such as responsibility and honesty. I always encourage them to improve personally and professionally. I have many happy memories of these first three months teaching in Ocotal. Sometimes it is difficult because of the distance, lack of transportation, and the road, but I am always blissful once I get to school and see their faces happy. I think they have learned from me and I have learned from them as well, because as my favorite writer says “a child is able to teach three things to an adult: to be happy without any reason, to be always busy with something, and to know how to demand what you want with all your strength”. For everything my students have taught me, I feel grateful to be part of their lives and their future.

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