English for Tourism at Cobach 11 in La Paz

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Interesting and fun activities under the principle of learning while having fun are being used to help students at the high school Cobach 11 in La Paz to develop “real world” English language skills.

All students at Cobach 11 who are enrolled in the program Servicios Turísticos or Tourist Services as part of their school training take part in English classes. This important training program helps students not only acquire important tools in order to face the working world in tourism successfully, but to enhance their English language abilities as well.

The program also promotes performance improvement through activities that involve students in a variety of different competitions with some taking place against classmates and other times competing against other educational institutions.

The main purpose is to improve students´ performance in English language by giving them an incentive. For example, if a student wins a competition, he/she may receive a prize or extra credits in a particular English subject. Cobach 11 English teacher Ramón Ibarra Escobar, who has 15 years experience in teaching, creates all these activities to help students learn English while having fun.

A good example of these competitions is the traditional “waiters race” where groups of students compete among themselves by taking orders, serving drinks, picking up dishes and getting the check paid for. All of this done within the boundaries of the school – with the clock ticking. With no room for mistakes, this competition is quite a challenge for the different teams, and of course, all of them eager to win. Therefore, everybody´s performance improves. At the end of the competition, the Ibarra Escobar always asks the participants if while doing the challenge they felt like a waiter in a crowded restaurant. The answer is an exhausting and unanimous yes!

There are other activities in the training program used to improve English language. One of them is the conversational practice on the malecón of La Paz where students approach an American, Canadian or any English-speaking tourist with the intention of having a real English conversation. The groups are also taken by Ibarra Escobar to local hotels and restaurant to do “real world” research.

Useful learning activities in the real world are ones where the student is able to take what they have learned in a text book or classroom and use it in another context. La Paz is the perfect place for students to go use their newly learned skills in the field of tourism. Meaningful activities in the field help students engage in active, constructive, authentic and cooperative ways.

All this would not be possible without the talented and excellent groups of students who have chosen Servicios Turísticos as their training program at the high school Cobach 11 in La Paz. Teachers give their best to their students but the students also give back to their teachers, usually without even knowing! Sometimes good, sometime bad but from every experience, there is always significant learning and lovely memories to be made.

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