It wasn’t a typical English class at the Experimental Bilingual High School of Moravia, northeast of San José.
The teacher sat in the back on a recent Tuesday, while Allan Barquero from the Canadian-based Scotiabank asked questions in English about an article in The Tico Times, a copy of which was sitting on each student’s desk.
The school is part of Reaching Out, an inter-sector effort launched in 2006 to put The Tico Times in the hands of Costa Rican students learning English (TT, June 9, 2006).
Under the program, businesses pay to provide copies of newspapers at public high schools targeted by the Ministry of Public Education for English-language education.
Scotiabank pays to bring 280 Tico Times newspapers each week to the Moravia high school, which uses the paper to help teach English to students ages 16 and 17. Scotiabank also sends volunteers, such as Barquero, to the school once a week to help teach English classes and chat with the students.
“It’s really easy for the bank to just give us the money and buy us the paper,” said Gabriela Hernández, who coordinates the school’s English program. “But (Barquero) is giving us his time, and we are thankful and appreciative.”
In 2006, nine public schools throughout the country received Tico Times subscriptions, thanks to 11 sponsoring companies. Scotiabank, this year’s sole sponsor, has made The Tico Times available at two high schools.
Tenth graders at the Moravia high school take 12 lessons of English a week, more than twice the number at regular – not bilingual – public high schools. Still, most students in Barquero’s class appeared timid, reluctant to answer his questions about Costa Rica’s seven natural wonders.
Not 17-year-old Daniel Rojas, however. He took English in elementary school, often speaks the language at home, and reads books, watches movies and plays video games in English.
But, he said, “Where I learned to speak really fast and with pronunciation was here in this high school.”