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Ecuadorean diplomats in English learning programme bid farewell

Ecuadorean diplomats in English learning  programme bid farewell

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The first cohort of Ecuadorean diplomats from the ‘Learning and Perfection of the English Language’ programme have completed their four-month attachment in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).

Last Friday, the diplomats received gifts and certificates at a farewell ceremony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs conference room.{{more}}

During remarks, five students, Myrian Noroña Martinez, Mónica Torres Jima, Janeth Ayovi Veliz, Jorge Saavedra España, María Bautista Ortiz, expressed their thanks and spoke of their experiences in English, showcasing their new-found skills in the language.

Speaking at the event, Minister of Foreign Affairs Camillo Gonsalves described the students as pioneers in the relationship between SVG and the Republic of Ecuador.

“It is never easy to be the first people as part of the programme,” he said.

“They provided valuable insight not only on the relationship between the Caribbean and Latin America, but on ways in which we can improve our own productivity, not only within the ministry but within the country,” Gonsalves stated.

“They have insights on agriculture, on animal husbandry and other aspects of production that they have shared with us and I think that relationship will continue.”

According to the minister, the five students paved the way for the 49 Ecuadoreans currently in SVG as part of the ‘Go Teacher programme’.

Additionally, Gonsalves praised Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa, whom he described as being a generous visionary in his relationship with St Vincent and the Grenadines, recalling his prompt response to the national disaster of December 2013.

“He took members of his diplomatic corps and sent them here and then he took members of his teacher corps and very bravely sent them to St Vincent and the Grenadines to learn English and he said ‘Why should I send them to the United States or the United Kingdom when you speak perfectly good English in St Vincent and the Grenadines…’ and here they are.”

Nathaniel Williams, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, also paid respect to the responsiveness of Ecuador to SVG in relation to the December 2013 floods, stating that the Ecuadoreans responded faster than any other country.

Gonsalves revealed that Vincentians would soon be going to Ecuador to learn Spanish in the same way Ecuadoreans are coming to learn English.

“We will share our experiences,” he said,

“Foreign Affairs in this country is thought of as some sort of international mendicancy, where you go out and you beg and you come back with a cheque, but this is an example of a relationship of brotherhood and solidarity and equality, where they help us and we help them and they offer what they can and we offer what we can.”

Gonsalves commended the Ecuadorean students for embracing the challenge and opportunity.

“These five individuals will go back as the harbinger of a wonderful, great and long-standing relationship that is only going to strengthen and deepen,” he said.

Also making remarks at the ceremony, chief English tutor Flavia Howard expressed gratitude for the teaching experience. Howard, an experienced teacher, revealed that she adopted a European framework to teach the programme. The Ecuadorean students were taken to police stations and schools, went shopping and participated in recreation, among other things during their lessons.

“We were in a classroom situation, so they behaved like classroom students at times,” Howard said.

She said despite a few challenges, there were jovial moments, and the people of SVG were hospitable towards the Ecuadoreans.

“I am convinced that despite some challenges, in St Vincent and the Grenadines, the English language can be competently taught to non-native speakers, where the level of acquisition will allow the learner to effectively communicate, using the language skills,” said the educator.

Describing the diplomats’ experience as not only linguistic in nature, but also cultural, chief education officer Lou-Anne Gilchrist expressed how sad she was to see the students leave.

She added that the 44 remaining Ecuadoreans mentioned by Gonsalves are currently at the St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College learning English in the first phase of the ‘Go Teacher’ programme.

In the second phase, they would then be exposed to methodologies and the pedagogy of teaching English to their Ecuadorean students.

“That is the beauty of language learning, the beauty of immersion, that it is always a very rich rounded experience,” she said.

Although the programme in which five Ecuadoreans participated had a duration of four months, the teachers’ programme will run for seven months.

“Let it not be that we are divided by the seas, by the oceans and also by our language” Gilchrist said. “Let us break the linguistic and cultural barriers that exist.”

Gilchrist urged parents, headteachers and directors to encourage children to take the foreign languages. (AS)

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