70 Years Creating Average Individuals

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70 Years Creating Average Individuals

Tatiana Vélez working on her VHS Italian course at home

Tatiana Vélez working on her VHS Italian course at home

Tatiana Vélez working on her VHS Italian course at home

Tatiana Vélez working on her VHS Italian course at home

Sofia Niño, Discoverer Staff Writer

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As Tatiana Vélez first saw Piazza San Marco during her trip to Italy, she slowly fell in love with the sight, and quickly began to delve deeper into this new realm that desperately called to her. Every google search, picture, article, and  movie she saw made her more infatuated with this place and this life she wished to follow. However, Vélez knew that in order to follow her dream, she had to start by first being capable of understanding it, which meant learning a new language. At the time, she heard of Italian VHS courses at the school, so she did not hesitate to enlist. Little did she know the disappointment that she sent her way as she signed her name on the dotted line.

The Columbus School is locally famous for its bilingual education. However, during recent years, it has become a priority for schools around the city to teach another language as a part of their curriculum. Surprisingly, the TSC has not fallen yet for this trend, and instead offers limited options such as VHS language courses and sporadic language extracurricular classes, although these have proven to be sub-par.

Ghost of language present

Currently, Vélez is learning Italian on the Virtual High School program the school provides as an elective. These courses are completely virtual, and are done with an international class via the internet. At first, she was very excited to make the class.

However, her enthusiasm slowly died, as she realized this program wasn’t as perfect as she once believed.

“I don’t learn as much as in a normal class because it is virtual and you don’t get a real teacher and like a real class, because you also learn a lot from other student; it’s not the same but I manage to learn.”

Even though it is not perfect, Vélez still prefers it than the other language extracurricular the school used to offer, since she had already tried to learn French on this program, which caused her to fall out of love with French.

“I didn’t learn anything [in the French course]; it was like you learned things that won’t matter when you get there,” reflected Tatiana. “The school is missing a lot in that area.”

The Ghosts of languages past

Former student of the Portuguese extracurricular course, Laura Loaiza agreed with Vélez by stating, “I decided to get out because I wasn’t learning anything,” when asked about why she left the course.

Loaiza desperately tried to learn for three years with the TCS’ language extracurricular, but she claims the program had more cons than pros. As a matter of fact, Loaiza feels that these three years were meaningless, since her class was constantly stuck repeating the basics.

“They changed teachers a lot; some of them left, they got bored, so it was very difficult because another one came and started from the basics again, started repeating stuff and it became like really boring,” said Loaiza.

In addition to the lousy teachers, despite the fact Loaiza had an advanced skill set, she was still placed with newcomers, that were often a lot smaller than her.

“I was in my third year learning Portuguese and I was still with people who were just starting,” stated Loaiza. “They encouraged little kids, like they were only 5 to 6 years old, and they didn’t even know to speak english and they were in the same class. It was really annoying.”

The Ghost of languages future

Nonetheless, new extracurricular coordinator Johan Andrés Ocampo, is working to change this reality, by revamping the after school language programs.

Ocampo wishes to slowly start this process by starting with French and Mandarin courses.

“We are currently negotiating so that next bimester we can offer French with a teacher form La Alianza Francesa and Mandarin with the help of  El Instituto Confucio.”

In addition to motivation, Ocampo recognizes the problems that arose in the past, and choses to solve them in order to assure the future success of the classes.

“The main problem that arises when you offer a language, is the fact that you must have a group of minimum eight students who are on the same level, so that the classes can be rationally priced. That is why the program wasn’t offered last year: there wasn’t a way,” explained Ocampo. “So, next year, with the high demand for French classes, we have managed to hire a particular teacher that allows there to be possibly smaller groups of 4 students with the same level.”

In addition, he hopes to slowly consolidate a strong base throughout the years with several classes, levels, teachers and languages, allowing  the program to thrive outside the front gate.

“Once the program consolidates we will plan on offering it to external groups, so we can open it to all the Las Palmas community,” stated Ocampo. “Its going step by step but we are going in that direction.”