The teaching of English becomes more common in the public schools of Costa Rica

Schools are making more time for English classes, while in 2005 these lessons were received by 73.6% of the students, this year it is 87.8%, or equivalent to 373,964 children. For this, the Ministry of Public Education (MEP) hired more teachers, while principals manage to enable spaces for classes in the tight schedule they already have.

Those who study in San Jose primary benefit the most. 96.2% of them attend those lessons, meanwhile, in the rural areas English is offered for only 78.8% of the children, according to the MEP. There are also gaps by location of the school. At least 90% of students in the educational regions of San José, Alajuela, Alajuela, West (San Ramon and other cantons), Cartago, Heredia, Liberia, Santa Cruz and Puntarenas have English teachers give them. Other cantons as Upala, Los Chiles, Guatuso, Osa, Golfito etc exceed the 50% coverage. Leonardo Garnier, Minister of Education, admitted that there is also pressure from parents who demand English. “The earlier you start learning a language, familiarity is greater, the management of pronunciation, grammar” exteriorized Garnier. On the gap between urban and rural, Garnier said that one of the problems is the difficulty of English teachers in remote locations, especially in single-teacher schools (only a teacher because there are fewer than 30 students enrolled).

What do they learn? The primary curriculum is focused more on oral skills, said Carolina Hernandez, MEP advisor in primary English. According to Hernandez, from fourth grade reading and incorporates a bit of writing, but in the first three levels is just to talk and listen. “For learning a second language, motivational activities begin with the child, such as a short play, a song, a dance, something that catches the child’s attention,” said Hernandez. Then, the teacher develops the content you want to teach, then follows a practice and finally the student works in some kind of production at the classroom. In theory, the school must receive five English lessons per week, each of 40 minutes duration. However, some institutions are hardly three weekly classes, given the lack of classrooms. “It’s not ideal, because if we all use the same curriculum, we do not give equal opportunities,” added Hernandez. The teaching of English in primary began as a pilot in 1994. Students receiving the primary language, have less difficulty adapting to English classes in high school.

Because Costa Rica receives lots of English speaking tourists and works with lots of other countries, this is a good step forward to progress. Go Costa Rica.

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