Teaching Teachers English
Bay Islands bilingual instructional program for grade school teachers aims to preserve English, but forgets Guanaja and Utila

December 1st, 2005
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Edwin Whittaker takes a general education exam at Jose Santos Guardiola School

Edwin Whittaker takes a general education exam at Jose Santos Guardiola School

Every Saturday 86 students from across Roatan meet at the Jose Santos Guardiola high school to train in becoming bilingual grade school teachers. They participate in national bilingual intercultural program that hopes to help in preservation and education of Honduras’ local languages.

Six teachers coordinated by Prof. Walter Watler teach the 86 future Roatan bilingual teachers. Each teacher, teaching on average two courses, receives a 7,000 fee for teaching one five month course. Student’s textbooks, teacher’s salaries and coordination expenses are funded by World Bank, but in 2007 the program is expected to pass onto the government of Finland funding.

These future teachers will have the ability to teach any course in Spanish, or English to grades kinder thru six. Some students have taught Roatan youth without a certificate in the past and see the course as an opportunity to get credentials. At the end of the four year course, in 2007, the graduates of the program will receive a nationally recognized primary school teacher’s certificate. After another two years of coursework the students can receive a teaching certificate as bilingual high school teachers.

Since 2003, the beginning of the program, Roatan Municipal has offered 25 Lps. 2,500 and Lps. 3,000 scholarships for students who are willing to teach at public schools across the Municipal.

One of the 38 Roatan Municipal students enrolled in the program, and one of only three men, is Byron Emile Brooks, 19, from Gravels Bay. “The women are more intelligent in our community,” said Brooks, explaing the small participation of men in the program. Brooks has been in the teachers program since March 2005 and receives a Lps. 3,000 scholarship in exchange for five days a week of teaching grades three thru six at Flowers Bay Arnald Auld grade school.

Not so lucky are Roatan’s Garifuna teachers who have to travel to San Pedro, to receive the bilingual Garifuna certificate. Another group missing out on the education opportunity are aspiring teachers from Utila and Guanaja. Roatan has no participants from English language teachers the two smaller Department’s Municipals.

According to Linda Powery, a Guanaja schoolteacher with four years experience, Santiana books publishing company offers a three weeks course for local teachers to devekope their English teaching skills. Still Guanaja and Utila teachers wishing to expand their credentials and receive a Honduran teachers certificate have to travel long distance, to receive their accreditation. [/private]

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Bay Islands bilingual instructional program for grade school teachers aims to preserve English, but forgets Guanaja and Utila

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