Some of our students are blessed to be raised in bi-or multi-lingual homes, where they learn two or three languages simultaneously and almost effortlessly before they even arrive at ECA, but they are the exception, not the rule. We always rejoice when we have the privilege of investing in these unique students, who flow seamlessly between languages, as they communicate with multicultural peers and adults. We see what tremendous potential these students have to impact the world, when they graduate and move into their professional careers in missions or ministry, diplomacy, or business. But the rest of us need to be more intentional with our language learning, and this includes the adults and students who make up our El Camino community.
We have already begun our ECALI (ECA Language Institute) that is meeting Thursdays after school. Both English and Spanish are being taught as a second language, and classes with ten different levels (5 Spanish and 5 English) are in session. The students are 48 ECA academic and office staff, as well as 16 parents, who have joined the effort. All ECA staff who have not reached an advanced level in both English and Spanish are expected to be intentionally improving their communication skills by participating in these classes.
We are convinced that as our adults at ECA (teacher aides, office staff, and classroom teachers) improve their second language abilities, their advances will spill over into helping our students grow in their second language learning process. Modeling the discipline it takes to learn another language is important!
For our foreign staff, gaining the Spanish skills to maneuver in and enjoy their adopted Colombian world is super important. As our missionaries become more comfortable with Spanish, they will not only enjoy church, eating out, and doing errands, but they can better communicate with parents and peers at ECA. They also show their students that they appreciate and value the Spanish language and the Colombian culture, as they are diligent in moving forward in learning Spanish.
As our Colombian staff members grow in their English abilities, they can better support the majority of our students in their quest to grow in English. They can model good English, better participate in staff meetings, communicate with newly arrived foreigners, and read internal communications. We applaud our staff members who are investing in their language learning process this semester!
Caught Speaking English!
Not only our staff, but our students are hard at work learning a second language. Besides the normal language classes, secondary students are being encouraged to use the target language in informal settings like hallways, the cafeteria, and the library. Passes are being given out when students are “caught” speaking English, and prizes are given out weekly to individuals and classes in honor of their efforts. We are proud of our tenth graders who began the competition strong, winning the most points the first two weeks.
We want ECA to be a place where language learning is honored, encouraged and celebrated. We want this to be a safe place to practice, make mistakes, and learn another language!