Chances are that some Ecuadorian students will have summer stories trumped by their teachers at the start of school.
Away from family and friends, more than 80 teachers from that country came to K-State this summer to learn to be more proficient in English as well as their teaching of it as a second language.
They are here as part of the GoTeacher program, a partnership between Kansas State University, Ecuador’s Ministry of Education and SENESCYT, Ecuador’s governing body of higher education. KSU is the first institution in the nation to host a group for this program.
The university held a welcome breakfast for the students Friday morning, representing the end of their first week of study.
Jorge Sinche described it as a competitive process to become part of the program. The teachers had to take a test to make sure they met English language proficiency requirements to complete KSU course work as nondegree-seeking students.
“We had to do a lot of work there in order to come here,” said Sinche, a teacher for five years.
A heavy workload awaits the teacher-students throughout the summer. Sinche takes grammar, reading, listening and technology in the mornings, and mathematics and linguistics in the afternoon.
Matilda Moreira, who has 20-plus years in the teaching profession, said her classes last from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. followed by “lots of homework and reading.” “It’s hard work,” she said.
Moreira said English is the most important language in the world, and students have to be able to learn it. “My country is going through a lot of changes,” she said. “Education is one of the most important means to encourage those changes.”
Moreira’s value of education and family almost caused her to miss this opportunity. She had to miss her youngest child’s graduation to come, which she wasn’t sure she could do.
“I had to think twice about coming because that’s very important to me,” she said. Moreira said she “burst into tears” Thursday night when talking to her grandchild, but she knows the good that will come from this trip.
“This is a good experience and we’re trying to do our best,” she said.
The program ends in August, but Marcelo Sabates, interim associate vice provost for international programs, said K-State is working to bring it here next summer as well as during the fall and spring in future years.
The program, funded by Ecuador’s government, is expected to extend over a three-year period, with the government setting aside $10 million each year.