The English program was introduced in January 2009. Travis visited the families living along the base of the city dump to introduce himself and explain the program we were starting at the community center. There was a lot of interest and enthusiasm, so it was apparent the program would be well received.
The classes started twice a week for 4 hours. Running from 11:00am to 3:00pm, this gave the children that the mission had sponsored into the public schools an opportunity to attend either before or after their regular classes.
There was also an opportunity for the adults and teens to attend between 12:00 and 1:00pm. The program was off to a great start.
Although these English classes are valuable to the children, they are also optional. It was important to develop a solid motivation and incentive program into it as well.
The first season the children received small treats for attending. The interest was there but the motivation wasn’t that strong.
As the mission moved into the 2nd year of the program, the class grew to 5 days per week. Classes change every half hour to accommodate the growing attendance. Travis works to coordinate the classes, keeping in mind their ages and academic levels as well as behaviour and interest. A big challenge!
The children already had the basics of colors, numbers and letters. The goal of Families at the Dump is to empower the children and their families, not just entertain them. With this in mind our English program focuses on CONVERSATIONAL ENGLISH. Learning phrases and questions that will assist them in social settings as well as their possible career choices is the goal. Because TOURISM is the bulk of employment opportunities here in the Vallarta area, having the basics of English ensure a better chance of securing a job in the local resorts and restaurants.
Rewards and incentives have grown to include a bi-monthly auction of fun and useful items with their “Travis dollars”, which are earned for attendance, behaviour and performance/participation in the class room.
Also a year end party tops off the program which ran this season from November to June. Over the summer months through public school vacation, the classes will continue once/twice weekly to maintain the momentum!
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