EDUCATION

Free English education for Chilean students [+ VIDEO]

PUNTA ARENAS – About 50 high-school students in Punta Arenas are taking part in a week-long English Summer Camp. The program is called English Opens Doors and is funded by the Ministry of Education, means it’s totally free for the students. The idea is to create an immersive environment for Chilean students to speak English while playing games and doing group projects.

One of the students, Hector Altamirano Ulloa, explained why he decided to participate: “It’s an opportunity to have fun during this part of the year and meet new people who may become truly good friends in the future. And the most important part of this opportunity could be to practice my English.”
This program is part of the government’s initiative to increase the amount of Chileans who can speak English in a country that is seeing an increase in tourism. The classes are led by foreign native English speakers and Chilean college students studying to be English teachers.
I spoke with the coordinator of this camp and he told me why this program is especially important for kids living here in this southern Chilean city. Camp leader Sebastián Alvarez said “First, in Punta Arenas, it’s really important because we receive a lot of tourists. The tourism industry is really big here so English is very important, not only for tourism, but also for interacting with other people when they come to Punta Arenas and because this is a very unique way to be immersed in the language. It’s very difficult for all the Chilean students to speak English because we don’t use it every day so this is a very good chance to be immersed in the language. “
And this camp isn’t just taking place here; in fact, there are dozens of them throughout Chile as far north as Arica. These English camps were first established in 2003. 

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