Ever since I arrived in Diriamba Nicaragua I have met many young adults that spoke English at varying levels who wanted to practice speaking English to improve their pronunciation, listening skills, and fluency. Strangers would approach me while walking along the streets and talk to me in English in order to practice. Several people have asked if they could meet with me on a regular basis to practice their English. Finally I decided to do something about it…so this past November I started the English Rap Session. No…this has nothing to do with Rap Music. These sessions are group conversation sessions in English. I serve as the moderator but the attendees can talk about whatever topic they desire… culture, food, religion, music, sports, travel, dreams, call center job opportunities….or whatever comes to mind at the time. These discussions have been very interesting and entertaining. We generally have a lot of fun!
They ask me questions about the pronunciation of words, the meaning of phrases, expressions, or idioms that they have heard watching movies, TV shows or while listening to music in English (there are over 5,000 idiomatic phrases used in contemporary American English - it's amazing when you realize all of the phrases we take for granted that have to be explained to English learners. We use up and down a lot (Shut up, turn it down, throw-up, sit down, get up... )). They are very interested life and culture in the USA and have a lot of questions about the USA.
The attendees are a mixture of young adults attending college studying English in Jinotepe, or people wanting to improve their fluency in order to work in a call center in Managua, or adults that simply want to improve their English language skills. Apparently call center jobs are highly prized in Nicaragua. The starting salary is quite high for Nicaragua but most call centers require an English proficiency of at least 75%.
These conversations sessions also provide an outlet for the students that have completed the 3 month English Internship Classes offered by One, Two…Tree! but did not qualify for an internship. These discussion sessions allow these former students the opportunity to continue learning and improving their English in a casual, friendly, and fun environment.