Language courses at Todos Santos Center meet community ask

Since Colorado State University began working in the Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico, the community had one big request — additional English courses.

In July, CSU started its first English courses in Todos Santos with an enrollment of 90 adults in Todos Santos and children in nearby Pescadero.

“Many residents have asked CSU to help fill this desire to learn English,” said McKenzie Campbell, director of the CSU Todos Santos Center. “Residents noted significant demand for adult and advanced language courses in Todos Santos as well as children’s language courses in El Pescadero.”

"I am very thankful with CSU for giving us (all residents) this amazing opportunity, letting us have this opportunity to learn a second language and we are happy about it, we all like it very much."
“I am very thankful with CSU for giving us (all residents) this amazing opportunity, letting us have this opportunity to learn a second language and we are happy about it, we all like it very much.” – Giselle Contreras

The education program complements existing English language programming in the area. The coursework at CSU is aimed at adult learners and will offer advanced levels of English in future sessions.

“We are excited to explore ways we can collaborate with community organizations to jointly meet the increasing demand in the region,” Campbell said.“As the economies of these towns become increasingly dependent on tourism, local residents have expressed the sentiment that English is an important aspect for their ability to compete in the workplace.”

Giselle Contreras, 23, an English course student, said the benefits of being bilingual are what encouraged her to enroll.

“In this generation, it is very important to be bilingual — the doors get opened easily when we are trying to get a job,” Contreras said.

Education is the key

Ivonne Benitez Guzman, language coordinator and ESL instructor who is teaching the English language courses in the Todos Santos and El Pescadero communities, said the courses create opportunities for people in the community. “Education is the only key to make our world a better place to live,” she said.

At the end of their level two course, participants have the option to complete an exam that would grant them certification from the Cambridge English Organization demonstrating their proficiency in English.

"I decided to get into this course because ... I can have better opportunities for jobs, and also now in this area [it] is very indispensable that you can dominate a second language [like] English."
“I decided to get into this course because … I can have better opportunities for jobs, and also now in this area [it] is very indispensable that you can dominate a second language [like] English.”

The goal is to prepare participants to be confident in their spoken and written ability through ongoing teaching and coaching. The main goal of this course is to help students be able to communicate more effectively in English without great effort or misunderstanding for all parties involved.

English is the common second language in the area, said student Javier de Jesús Amador, 25, and speaking English will help his career prospects.

“My experiences so far have been really good, our teacher Ivonne is very dynamic and fun,” he said.

Identifying areas where CSU can collaborate with, learn from and assist the communities of Todos Santos and Baja California Sur is part of the Center’s mission.

Amy Rex contributed to this report.

Teacher in front of English class

About the CSU Todos Santos Center

The Colorado State University Todos Santos Center is the university’s first international location and is core to CSU’s mission of teaching, research, service, and outreach.

The Center provides opportunities for CSU students and Baja California Sur residents to collaborate with local partners and businesses to identify needs, conduct research, and produce impactful outcomes.

CSU’s vision in Todos Santos is to cultivate generations of global citizens and to be a part of creating thriving communities through collaboration, experience, and exchange of knowledge in areas such as agriculture, infectious disease, elementary education, environmental and social sustainability, wildlife ecology, veterinary medicine, and public health.

Q&A with Ivonne Benitez Guzman

[Para leer en español, haga clic aquí]

Name: Ivonne Benitez Guzman

Title/Role at CSU: Language Coordinator and ESL Instructor

How long have you lived in Todos Santos?

I have been living in Todos Santos since 2012.

What does your work involve at the Center?

I am responsible for developing curriculum, creating new programs and opportunities, identifying appropriate teaching and learning materials, offering classes and recruiting students for English as a Second Language, providing or coordinating Spanish classes to English-speaking program participants and assessing feasibility for ESL teacher training.

What have you learned from working at the Center?

I have learned that the local people are open to new opportunities and if we work together we can make it happen. Each person who works at the campus wants to see the local community succeed.

What would you want people to know about the CSU involvement in Todos Santos?

I want them to know that CSU is creating and developing opportunities for local people.

What is your favorite thing about the Todos Santos community?

Todos Santos is a real community.  That was one the first things that struck me when I came for the first time. Its people are genuine, very kind, they are eager to improve their lives and give better opportunities to their children, they are aware of the things that need to be changed, they love to enjoy life with simple things.

What is your background?

My BA is in Bilingual Education. I specialized in teaching/creating/designing English Courses for Specific Purposes. I have taught for many years in various schools that specialized in intensive teaching and total immersion. I am certified by the University of Cambridge in language background to language learning and teaching, managing the teaching process and lesson planning and use of resources for language teaching. I am writing my thesis for my  master’s   focusing on how children can become bilingual in a Spanish-speaking environment.

Why are you excited about this opportunity?

Education is the only key to make our world a better place to live. We need to nurture our youth so we can see a change. This opportunity gives me a chance to contribute to making that happen.