HAC-Haiti’s English language program started in 2010 immediately after the Earthquake in response to the increasing need for translators to help the relief efforts. The program that originally focused on certifying translators in conversational English has grown into a full certification and college prep course for adolescents and adults. The presence of International NGOs and growing trade with the United States is contributing the to greater use of English in commercial settings. English is also becoming more important as many Haitians migrate to the United States and as many students aspire to attend North American educational institutions. The availability and the popularity of English language television programs and music is also helping to familiarize Haitians with the language. The goal of HAC-Haiti’s English Language program is for all students to develop English fluency, as well as the skills and desire to attain higher education and work for positive structural change in Haiti.
HAC-Haiti’s English Program has 6 levels of English language instruction. We use Cambridge University Press’ “Touchstone” series of ESL textbooks. The books are separated into beginning (1,2), intermediate (3,4), and advanced (5,6) level English instruction. Students focus on vocabulary building, grammar, speaking, listening, and reading comprehension. When they sign up for the English Language course with HAC-Haiti they are provided with a student’s book, workbook where they are assigned homework each night, and listening CD. HAC-Haiti focuses on providing its students with a total emersion experience into the English language. We hold optional conversation circles after the formal class time so that students can ask vocabulary questions, learn slang, and practice speaking English. Students are assessed weekly in all five core competency areas. We offer tutoring and focused review sessions for struggling students. At the end of each course there is a rigorous final exam assessing the student’s progression in the language. During our final advanced course (level 6) we focus on using the English language for job readiness or attaining higher education. Students create English language resumes, have practice job interviews, and learn occupational specific vocabulary words. We also focus on preparing students for our TOEFL course and to apply for Colleges and Universities in the United States.
Our English language teachers are a combination of local educational professionals and international volunteers. HAC-Haiti’s English language program focuses on job readiness and placement and places importance on hiring local English language teachers who have graduated from HAC-Haiti’s English language program. Being a former student in the program helps our teachers better relate to their students and maintain consistency in our curriculum. HAC-Haiti uses international volunteers and native English speakers to teach the advanced level courses. Students have the ability to interact with native English speakers, ask questions about culture, and practice speaking with various accents.
Our students come from communities in and around Croix des Bouquets. Many of our students are currently enrolled in secondary school, either at the local Lycee, the low cost high school in Croix des Bouquets, or at secondary schools in and around the area. Their ages range from 14-60 as many adults and working professionals are taking English language classes to continue their education, communicate with family members overseas, or to increase their job chances in the global marketplace and in Haiti. Our students are all passionate about learning English and continuing their education. Many students are aspiring or current teachers, looking to improve the state of Education in Haiti, individuals looking to start their own NGOs and help change their own communities and country, or individuals looking to start local businesses or attend Universities overseas.
TOFEL and College Prep.:
Our TOFEL certification class is the newest addition to HAC-Haiti’s English program. TOFEL is the international test required for acceptance into by many Colleges and Universities in North America. It is the highest assessment of English language fluency in the world. Students with TOFEL certification or high scores on the final exam are internationally considered fluent speakers of the language and are more able to attain education and employment from North American institutions. HAC-Haiti’s TOFEL prep courses focus on advanced vocabulary, reading comprehension, and speaking. Students use laptops and HAC provided computers during the course and for the final exam.
HAC-Haiti also combines its TOFEL prep courses with a college prep course. We work with each student on their goals and aspirations for higher learning and focus on 100% college acceptance. We work with our University partners from our volunteer program to stay on top of scholarships offered to Haitian students and international applicants. We use university volunteers and interns to help our student s fill out college applications, write entrance essays, and scholarship applications. We also help students with their English language resumes and interview skills. The college prep course also integrates with our volunteer program to provide a cultural exchange between US university students and Haitian high school and university students. Students are able to learn from each other and US volunteers help serve as a mentor to Haitian students during the college application and admission process. Often times students stay in communications and develop strong friendships after the volunteers have returned to the United States.