Vol.19 No.805
Monday Edition, August 5, 2019 Third news page

According to the ministry, the cost of the program for these students is approximately $4,1 million.
/ A.M. Costa Rica wire services photo.

1,250 public school students to start English program

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Ministry of Public Education announced the agreement with the Alliance for Bilingualism program, known as ABi, for the teaching of the English language to 1,250 students from public schools throughout the country.

The ABi program has the goal of converting Costa Rica into a bilingual country and with it improve the attraction of investments, boost employment generation, and increase opportunities for study abroad, the government has said.

According to the ministry, the cost of the program for these students is approximately $4,1 million.

"The enthusiasm they have for learning English will impact access to job opportunities and the economic recovery of their communities," President Carlos Alvarado said at the announcement of the program. "Therefore, the Alliance for Bilingualism is a high priority for the government."

As A.M. Costa Rica reported on July 22, the government announced 4,000 teachers are training in English language education.

Alvarado signed a presidential decree declaring the ABi program to be in the public interest, due to its importance for students to be bilingual for getting better job opportunities in the future.

“I urge students to take advantage of it and do their best to forge a better future,” said Alvarado.

Alvarado also signed an agreement between the government and the North American-Costa Rican Cultural Center to give scholarships for English classes to people with limited economic resources.

The cultural center also is opening a new course for 80 students with the support of the National Geographic Learning Program.

Program hopes are that students will certify their level of English at the end of 12 months of training to show they have acquired skills necessary to improve their chances of finding employment and will be part of a job search process.

Last November the statistics from the Ministry of Labor showed that speaking English means better jobs.

The Labor Ministry presented the study on "The benefits of bilingualism in Costa Rica," that was carried out by the Development Observatory of Costa Rica University.

Researchers Alejandro Abarca and Suráyabi Ramírez did the study. It was an analysis of the labor benefits of speaking English in Costa Rica and was based on data from 2005 to 2017, by the Statistics and Censuses National Institute.

What stands out in the study is that people with knowledge of English have better working conditions than non-bilingual people of similar age, academic training, and social status, among others.

The study confirms that, on average, an English speaker receives $241 more in their monthly salary compared to a monolingual person even though the English speaker works an average of nearly an hour less per week.

Benefits are different as well. The study shows that bilinguals have 2.5 percent more holidays, 2.7 percent more possibility of having social security and 1.4 percent more chances of an aguinaldo or Christmas bonus than a non-bilingual person.

Steven Núñez, Labor minister, said that seeing the results of the study, "we are clearer that we are on the right track to focus our efforts in promoting the study of this second language through the ABi and with the start of English courses with native teachers from English speaking countries."

Have you heard of young Costa Ricans who may be interested in learning English for free in the ABi program?
We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to news@amcostarica.com


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