English-language training program
reaches out to at-risk schools
The United States Department of State recently announced a second round of English scholarships for high school students in Costa Rica. The English Access Microscholarship Program (Access) has funded approximately 55,000 students in more than 70 countries since 2004.
The Costa Rican-North American Cultural Center will be carrying out the $200,000 program that will provide two years of intensive English-language training to over 200 students at 10 high schools throughout the country.
Arturo Muñoz, academic director at the cultural center, said the program is of “transcendental importance” to students in high-risk situations, as both an incentive to not drop out of school, and also as a means to develop leadership and skills that could lead them out of their current condition of poverty and social exclusion. Muñoz described the “heart-breaking essays” of the at-risk students who, in their scholarship applications, talked about the English scholarships as a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Included in the Access program curriculum is training in what Muñoz termed “soft skills, like interview techniques, public speaking, resume writing, and team skills,” in order to prepare students to use their language skills at the conclusion of the program in their search for higher education or work, or both. The program consists of weekend classes and a yearly intensive summer program at the beginning of December. In addition, Access program students are expected to give back to their school communities once they have established a solid base of English by tutoring their classmates and helping to share their language skills in other ways. At the conclusion of the two-year program, students will take the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) exam.
Approximately 20 students from each of the following high schools will participate in this second round of funding: Colegio La Aurora in Heredia, Liceo de Alajuelita in San José; Colegio Salvador Umaña Castro in Ipís de Coronado, Colegio Pocora in Guápiles and Liceo de Chacarita in Puntarenas.
The first round of scholarships was given in October 2009 to 100 students distributed throughout the following high schools: Liceo de Pavas, Liceo de Alajuelita, Liceo de Aserrí, Liceo Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles y Liceo Nuevo de Limón.
Muñoz said he was “touched” by the difficult situations in the essays he read as part of the selection process, “The reality is so close, yet so far. We think of countries like Haiti, or Africa, but no, it’s right around the corner in San José or others parts of Costa Rica.”
In a press release, the U.S. Ambassador, Anne S. Andrew, stated that English language training is one of the key commitments her Embassy has made with Costa Rica.
According to the program’s website, the Access Program “provides a foundation of English language skills to non-elite, 14 – 18 year old students… (to) gain an appreciation for American culture and democratic values, increase their ability to participate successfully in the socio-economic development of their countries, and gain the ability to compete for and participate in future U.S. exchange and study programs.”
Word of the Day
Main Entry: tutor
1 : to have the guardianship, tutelage, or care of
2 : to teach or guide usually individually in a special subject or for a particular purpose : coach
intransitive verb 1 : to do the work of a tutor
2 : to receive instruction especially privately
Fund: v. to provide a sum of money or other resources whose principal or interest is set apart for a specific objective
Round: n. a unit of action in a contest or game which comprises a stated period, covers a prescribed distance, includes a specific number of plays, or gives each player one turn
Throughout: preposition. All the way from one end to the other of: in or to every part of
Touch: v. to move to sympathetic feeling
Transcendental: adj. being beyond comprehension
Love those Phrasal Verbs!
Carry out: to put into operation; execute
That company doesn’t have the funds to carry out its remodeling plans.
Drop out: to stop attending school or college
The teacher told his students the dangers of dropping out of school.
Reach out: move forward or upward in order to touch; also in a metaphorical sense
The government reached out to its people and offered assistance to those in need.
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Adversative Transitions (used to signal conflict, contradiction, concession, dismissal)
On the other hand,