10.03.2017

Teachers back to school to improve their English knowledge

AROUND 30 TEACHERS, MANAGEMENT AND ACADEMIC STAFF OF SAINT MARTIN AND SAINT BARTHÉLEMY JUST STARTED A TRAINING IN ENGLISH AT THE UNIVERSITY OF SINT MAARTEN.

Chantal Vaïti and Mike Guenguelou, both French teachers and CPE (Education Main Advisor) at the middle school District of Orléans are now back to being students this Wednesday, March 8. They were participating in a course called "English as a second language" at the University of Sint Maarten, as twelve other teachers, and management and academic staff of Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy. The day before, other teachers, this time from Saint Martin only, went to their first class of “English for French Teachers”. Each group will perform three hours per week for twelve weeks, on their spare time and on a voluntary basis.

“This first training session aims to strengthen the training of teachers in English who will intervene in bilingual classes, but also the management and academic staff to create a dynamic around these classes,” explains Michel Sanz, the head of the (French) Department of Education for the Northern Islands. Since September 2016-2017, seven bilingual classes (five in Saint Martin) were created. Next year, it will doubled “In the past, various and different experiments have been tried but they were unsuccessful because it is very difficult. This isn't just a story of means but also of skills” he analyzes.

Teachers who provide bilingual classes courses are indeed not the only ones to master the English language. As a CPE, Mike Guenguelou is for example “always in contact with English-speaking families”. He sometimes has trouble expressing what he would like to say precisely and it is difficult to ask a third person during confidential conversations. Therefore, he is hoping to improve his level of English through this training. This is also the case for Chantal Vaïti. Because she teaches French, she is often brought to use English (as well as Spanish or Creole) to facilitate the understanding of the students. This training is part of the agreement signed between the National Education and the Monitoring Center of Saint Martin. It is thus financed by private funds and the ESF (European Social Fund).

"This is an experimental phase to show that it was possible," says Louis Jeffry, the President of the Association. According to him, this training allows teachers to better understand the linguistic and cultural complexity of the island but it also serves as a model and proves that it is possible to work with the University of Sint Maarten. For Geneva Phillip Durham, the CPE of the University, this training is “an example of cross-border collaboration on education.”

Fanny Fontan

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