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Teaching Program in Puerto Lopez (Ecuador)

(Note: Please excuse us for any grammar or spelling mistake since this document is prepared by our local coordinators in Ecuador and English is not their native language. Thanks for your understanding.)

The program takes place in Puerto Lopez and the surrounding communities on the coast. Puerto Lopez is a connection point in this region for transportation as well as the headquarters for Machalilla National Park, which is the second biggest marine park in Ecuador after Galapagos Islands.

From here, you can also visit La Plata Island or “Poor Man’s Galapagos” due to its similar wildlife or see the Humpback Wales when it is season for their visit.

There are approximately 16,000 inhabitants in Puerto Lopez.

THE PROJECT

Interns and volunteers placed in Puerto Lopez will work in a school either in the town or in the villages Salango or Rio Chico located about 10-15 minutes away with local bus.

The schools here have two different systems. In some schools in Puerto Lopez and in Rio Chico, they have 2-3 classrooms where the children study together in grade 1-2, grade 3-4, grade 5-6 or grade 1-3, grade 4-6.
In the other schools, they have a “complete” system with one or two classrooms for each grade, from 1st to 6th.

The students are all from 6 years up to about 13 years old and the schools have from about 40 students up to 200 students.

Volunteers often have to improvise and make their own materials to teach the students basic English. As English is hard for the students most of the time, it is important to make learning fun. If they have fun, they learn easier. In the cases where they have proper English books in school, these books tend to be at a too high level for them and therefore they easily lose interest in English.

The schools are simple, but are in need of volunteers and their help will be highly appreciated.

INTERNS’ AND VOLUNTEERS’ ROLE

Volunteers will work alongside with the teachers to help the students with English, but also in the other subjects like Math, Geography, Sports etc. If they feel like, they can normally prepare and hold their own classes after getting warmed up a bit. However, they need to understand that the level of English in public schools is usually low, so they might not even be able to talk in English with the teacher.

Thinking about this, volunteers need to prepare themselves before arriving with ideas of word games, flash cards, songs, books, etc that will keep the children interested and to make sure that it is fun to learn. As the schools most likely don’t have too many materials, volunteers have to count on that they might need to arrange copies, papers, pens, and tests by themselves and may need to plan a small budget for this.

Except for short local holidays and vacations for Christmas and others, the schools in Puerto Lopez have summer holiday from the end of January to beginning of April. For someone that comes close to Christmas it’s also important to know that schools normally take a lot of time before Christmas to prepare song and dance for the parents. Close to summer holiday, they often have many tests for the students.

Tasks that volunteers might do:

• Work together with the other teachers to help the children during classes.
• Prepare materials for classes such as games, tests etc.
• Prepare and have classes in English with the children.
• Prepare extra classes after school if any children needs or wants to.
• Help during activities such as soccer during classes or after classes if needed.

REQUIREMENTS

Application with clear passport scan
Interest in working with children
Adaptable and open-minded to work and live in a very different culture

RECOMMENDED

At least 6 – 8 weeks
Intermediate Spanish
Some experience with children.

WORK HOURS

Monday to Friday. About 07:00 to 12:30.

WHAT TO BRING

An opened mind and ideas of games, songs, quizzes and similar is important. Sometimes volunteers can prepare at home, but once they arrive they can adapt their games and other plans to the level of the children’s English and get ideas of even more or better things to do. As the schools often don’t have too much material like papers, pens etc, they might actually have to buy some here in Ecuador or bring from home depending on what they want and can do. If they prepare quizzes or similar on paper, it is easiest to make copies to the students here in Ecuador as it also will save some money and trouble of carry too much from back home.

HOME STAY

Volunteers will live in Puerto Lopez or Salango with a family. They will have 3 meals per day, a private room and a shared bathroom. Houses on the coast tend to be quite simple compared to houses up in the mountains.

They will have about 15 to 25 minutes to get to the school they will work in and they need to calculate about $0.35 to $0.50 one way for this in case they for example live in Puerto Lopez but work in Rio Chico.

TO GET THERE

Volunteers have to arrive to Quito for at least the first day when we have the orientation. If they want Spanish classes, they will of course stay for a while before heading to the location of their work.

When it’s time to leave Quito, they will take a cab for about $2 to the bus and here they take the bus to Puerto Lopez for about $13. On arrival to Puerto Lopez after about 10 hours, a family member will wait in the bus station to take the volunteer to the house in Puerto Lopez or in Salango.

The host mother or father will then accompany the volunteer to the school to get introduced the first working day so they also know how to get there.

Calculate about $0.35 one way to get to school every day if needed.

PLACEMENT FOR

Anybody that like to work with children and their education.

THINK ABOUT

The ones that do best in this kind of project is not necessarily the one with most experience with teaching or children as it is so different from home. Volunteers will most of the time be the best English teacher in school right away when it comes to talking and reading.

The best volunteers we have worked with in schools have actually never done anything similar before and have just used their imagination to create tasks and games for the students to learn in a fun way to keep the students interested.

One thing volunteers might experience and have to think about is that even if the teacher pronounces words wrong or say the wrong thing grammatically, they might get offended if a volunteer comes and corrects them in front of their students. This is always best to do with the teacher in private and maybe after they have gotten to know each other a bit better.

This is a great place for people that love beaches and seafood. Also, the possibility to dive is good and quit a few travel here to try some surfing.

Puerto Lopez and the surrounding area is famous for being safe and calm as this is not any major touristic areas for Ecuador.