First Few Days at Tomás de Berlanga: Part 1

Snapshot of whiteboard on Friday afternoon

Although I have not yet posted as promised about the birds I saw in Mindo, I have to describe my week so far on Santa Cruz before I forget the details and delay the sequence of more current and relevant events too much.

I arrived at school early Monday morning to start working at the Tomás de Berlanga school (named for the man who first discovered the archipelago). I was to temporarily take the place of an English teacher who was still waiting for her visa renewal on the mainland, or “el Continente,” as Galapageños call it, and teach English to two classes.

For the upper levels of the school, classes are on a block schedule of eighty minutes periods, and my two classes were of intermediate English level 7th-9th graders and 10th-12th graders. Each group was of ten to twelve students that had all been born on one of the islands or el Continente, and some of whose parents speak English.

My goal for this first day was to spend the classes gauging the students’ English proficiency, their interest in birds, and especially their knowledge of Santa Cruz’s avifauna. One of the ways I did the former was via an exercise that one of the other English teachers, Eduardo, recommended: put a sentence on a piece of paper and cut it so each word is separated, mix them up, and give them to groups of students to put back together. I thought this was a great idea, so I took some time to think of sentences that might have several ways to be composed (both to ease the process for students but also to see if there were any trends towards certain structures).

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