A model school in the Galapagos Islands

Photos by Rongrong Wu Students and faculty at the Tomas de Berlanga School in the Galapagos

Teaching English and a sense of place, bringing the environment and global culture into the classroom

Chinese

20年前,加拉帕戈斯群岛的学生家长们为当地的中小学学生开办了托马斯•德•贝兰加学校。

相对与政府提供的教育,学生家长希望给自己的孩子更好的教育,并且加强英语教学,因为绝大多数的岛上经济来源与讲英文的游客相关。

如今,托马斯•德•贝兰加学校是圣克鲁斯岛上的九所公私立学校之一,而且也许是其中最好的一所。在加拉帕戈斯,学校有死板教学的通病。他们很少将课堂与环境相融合,所以众所周知,他们提供有限的英语教学。然而,贝兰加学校已经在这些方面成为其他学校学习的典范.

贝兰加学校现有187个学生和22位教师,其中10人来自美国,加拿大等国家。百分之六十的小学课程以英语授课。在中学,由于全国高中考试的语言为西班牙语,所以课程多以西班牙语教学。英语教学课程缩减为百分之四十。

罗斯林•卡梅伦是一名加拉帕戈斯保护协会的开发主任。该协会是一个旨在保护加拉帕戈斯群岛的生态系统的美国组织,同时,该协会提供资金渠道来支持贝兰加学校。罗斯林认为学生们在低年级的时候已经在语法,拼写和理解方面打好坚实的英文基础,并且在许多课程和活动中使用英语,所以中学课程中的英文缩减并不会影响学生的英语水平。 卡梅伦的儿子,梅森•莱昂就是从这所学校毕业的。

在2014年4月,学校聘请了来自美国威斯康辛的教育者,斯蒂芬妮•庞普伦,担任其主管及校长。她拥有威斯康辛大学奥什科什的西班牙语和拉丁美洲研究的本科学位以及注重双语教育的硕士学位。

庞普伦在接受访问时表示,学校的理念是利用岛上环境作为教学工具。她想促使不同学科的老师带领学生参与处理实际问题的综合课题,例如帮助当地农民提高产量进而减少食物进口量。庞普伦说,她想要学校与社会人士一起开设联合项目。除此之外,她希望扩展学生的课外兴趣以及其他活动。

到目前为止,老师和学生家长们都积极配合庞普伦。在她生日当天,学校老师带来了生日蛋糕,并在教师休息区为她举行生日聚会。

对于人年均收入约10,000美金的地区,贝兰加学校的学费相当昂贵。10个月的学年需要支付至少3,500美金。卡梅伦说在加拉帕戈斯群岛许多人的月收入仅为500到600美金。“所以对一些家庭来讲,贝兰加的学费十分昂贵。”

由于贝兰加学校有高度英语教学和校园地处圣克鲁斯高地两个优势,一位在阿约拉港做度假出租业务的美国人,唐娜•多尔蒂把她6岁的儿子,多诺万,送去了贝兰加学校。她认为她儿子在贝兰加学校可以更多的接触大自然。

贝兰加学校距离主镇阿约拉港约两个半英里,由9栋低檐,铁皮顶,白墙,有着热带风格的建筑组成。所有建筑散布在圣克鲁斯高地的一块树木繁茂的空地。学校有13间教室和一间行政办公室。除此之外,这所学校还有一间图书馆,运动场和两个时常用来上课的露台。

有些自然课是户外教学,老师带领学生去学校周围学习辨别岛上的植物和动物。贝兰加学校提供的课程有科学,数学,戏剧,英语,西班牙语,社会学,文学,艺术,音乐和体育。他们还有兴趣课如象棋,运动,电脑,课后作业辅导。据校长庞普伦说,学校有望在将来添加注重科学和新闻的俱乐部。她说,新闻俱乐部将会开办校报,设计学校网站和年鉴。

于1993年,圣克鲁斯的学生家长创建了Scalesia基金会。第二年,该基金会开办了贝兰加学校。学校用1535年发现的群岛的西班牙神父的名字命名。加拉帕戈斯以及世界各地的捐助者资助贝兰加学校,并且为百分之三十的学生提供奖学金。获得奖学金的学生必须有优秀的成绩且来自低收入家庭。

加拉帕戈斯群岛是厄瓜多尔的一部分,在太平洋距离南美洲大陆600英里的地方。大约涵盖十几个主要岛屿,并且大约30,000人居住其中四个岛屿。整个群岛有20所学校教育着超过5200名中小学生。拥有最多的人口(12000)和最多学校的圣克鲁斯岛有着包括托马斯•德•贝兰加学校和另一所私立学校,罗马琳达复临学校,在内的九所学校。在约6000人口的圣克里斯托瓦尔岛有六所学校。伊莎贝拉岛有1800人口及四所学校。而且在仅有100人居住的费罗雷纳岛也有一所学校。

托马斯•德•贝兰加学校独特的教学方法是另一个吸引家长和学生的关键。老师们说,他们尽可能的用有趣的方式来授课。

一位已经在该校任教两年半的英国老师,乔安娜•布朗说,大部分学生害怕讲英语,所以她试图引起学生的兴趣,然后在此过程中教他们英语。她说,她给学生授课通过,例如,做科学实验或教如何烤蛋糕,或者教授学生如何在互联网上寻找关于一些著名度假地点的信息,然后在课堂上提交一份报告。

去年,她的学生做了一个关于欧洲旅游的大课题,并且给来自美国的资助者做了简报。布朗说,这样一来,孩子们可以更舒适地说英语并且为自己的骄傲。她说,她试图激励她的学生讲英语,使得学生更加自然地使用这个第二语言。

“我的目标是创造不同 ”她说。

她说,她教学生关于诗歌的知识,并要求他们写一首关于“我喜欢东西”的诗。当他们完成以后,让他们把诗抄在自己做的像是狗或者冰淇淋的剪纸上,然后粘在海报上展出。

她说,当孩子们画画时,她告诉他们,只要他们用英语取代西班牙语来请求,他们就可以用不同颜色的铅笔来作画。

校长庞普伦说,政府教育部门的官员正计划召开加拉帕戈斯所有学校的领导的会议,以便于可以介绍贝兰加学校的教学方法,并且希望其他学校由此可以制定融合贝兰加以及自己学校经验的教学方法。卡梅伦说“这样一来加拉帕戈斯的所有学校可以从贝兰加的教学经验中受益。这将有助于实现面向加拉帕戈斯全体学生的教育平等。”#

English

Twenty years ago parents in the Galapagos Islands started the Tomas de Berlanga School for elementary and secondary students.

The parents wanted better educations for their children than the government was providing and they wanted to emphasize English because so much of the Galapagos’ economy was tied to English-speaking tourists.

Today Tomas de Berlanga is one of nine private and public schools on the island of Santa Cruz and perhaps the best. The schools in the Galapagos have suffered from rigid teaching practices. They rarely have incorporated into their classes the environment, for which the islands are known around the world, and they have offered limited English instruction. The Berlanga School has been a model in all of those areas.


Rongrong Wu

The Berlanga School has 187 students and 22 teachers, 10 of them from the United States, Canada and other countries. Sixty percent of the classes in the primary school are taught in English. In the upper school, the balance shifts to Spanish, the language of the national high school exams. Forty percent of the upper school classes are in English.

Roslyn Cameron (sound of Roslyn) is a development officer for the Galapagos Conservancy, a United States organization that works to protect the ecosystem of the Galapagos Islands and helps channel financial support to the school. She said the reduction of English in the upper school does not affect students’ ability in English. She said they get a strong foundation in the lower school in grammar, spelling and understanding and use English in many classes and activities. Cameron’s son, Mason Leon, graduated from the school.

In April 2014, the school hired Stephanie Pomplun, an American educator from Wisconsin, to serve as its director and principal. She has a bachelor’s degree in Spanish language and Latin American studies and a master’s degree focusing on bilingual education; both degrees are from the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh.

She said in an interview that the philosophy of the school is to use the environment as a tool for teaching. She said she wants to create complex projects with students and teachers in several disciplines to deal with practical, real-world issues like helping local farmers increase their production so that imports can be reduced. Pomplun said she would like the school to engage in joint projects with people in the community. She also wants to expand the school’s mix of clubs and its extra-curricular activities.

So far Pomplun has been getting a good response from teachers and parents. On her birthday, teachers in the school brought her a birthday cake and held a party for her in the teachers’ lounge.

In a region where the per capital income is about $10,000, the tuition for the Berlanga School is fairly pricy. It is $3,500 for a 10-month school year. Cameron said that the monthly income for many people in the Galapagos is $500 to $600. “So the tuition is really expensive for some families,” she said.

Donna Daugherty, an American who owns a vacation rental home business in Puerto Ayora, said she sent her son, Donovan, 6, to Tomas de Berlanga School because of the concentration on English instruction and the school’s campus in the highlands of Santa Cruz. And she said she felt that at the Tomas de Berlanga School her son could be more involved with nature.

The Berlanga School is a cluster of nine, low-lying, white-washed tropical style buildings with tin roofs spread over a clearing in a wooded section of the highlands of Santa Cruz, two and a half miles from the main town of Puerto Ayora. The buildings hold 13 classrooms and administrative offices. The school has a library, sports field and two patios where classes are sometimes held.

Some science classes are taught outdoors and all students go around the school grounds with their teachers to study the plants and animals of the island. Students at the Berlanga School study science, mathematics, drama, English, Spanish, sociology, literature, art, music, and physical education. They have chess, sports, computer clubs and after-class help with homework. Pomplun, the new director of the school, said she wants to add clubs that focus on science and journalism. She said the journalism club would create a school newspaper, school website and a yearbook.

Parents on Santa Cruz created the Foundation Scalesia in 1993 and the Foundation opened the Berlanga School in 1994. The school was named for the Spanish priest who discovered the archipelago in 1535. The school gets support from donors in the Galapagos and around the world. It provides scholarships for 30 percent of it students. The recipients must have good grades and come from families with low income.

The Galapagos Islands are a part of Ecuador, 600 miles from the mainland of South America in the Pacific Ocean. There are about a dozen main islands and about 30,000 people live on four of the islands. Throughout the islands, there are just over 5,200 primary and secondary students in 20 schools. Santa Cruz has the largest population – 20,000people – and the most schools, nine, including the Tomas de Berlanga School and another private school, Loma Linda Adventist School. Six of the schools are on the island of San Cristóbal, with a population of about 6,000. Four are on Isabella Island with a population of about 3,000and one is on Floreana Island, where 100 people live.

The unique teaching method in the Tomas de Berlanga School is another key to attracting parents and students. Teachers say they try to teach their classes in a fun way.

Joanna Browne, an English woman who has taught at the school for two and a half years, said that most of her students are really shy about speaking in English, so she tries to arouse her students’ interest and teach English in the process. She says she does this by guiding the students through, for example, a science experiment or a lesson in how to bake a cake, or how to find information on the Internet about some famous vacation place and then present a report to the class.

Last year, the students did a great project on tourism in Europe and made a presentation for a group of supporters of the school from the United States. Browne said that, in this way, children can feel more comfortable about speaking English and can be proud of themselves. She said she tries to create incentives for students to speak in English so that the second language becomes second-nature for them.

“My goal is to make a difference,” she said.

She said she taught her students about poetry by asking them to write a poem about “things I like.” Then they made a paper-cut out of a ship or a dog or a dish of ice cream and copied the poem by hand on to the cut-out and glued the cut-out on to a poster.

She said that when the children were drawing, she told them they could work with a different color pencil if they asked for it in English rather than in Spanish.

Pomplun, the director of Tomas de Berlanga, said that government education officials are planning to convene meetings with school leaders around the Galapagos so that they can be introduced to the methods at Berlanga and that hopefully, they will begin to institute the Berlanga methods in their own schools.

Cameron of the Galapagos Conservancy says that spreading the Tomas de Berlanga method is a good move. “This way all the schools in the Galapagos can benefit from the work at Berlanga,” she said. “This will help achieve equality of education for all students in the Galapagos.” #

 

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