Langdons Language Institute (LLI), which has been teaching English for 24 years in Trinidad and Tobago, is starting a new project to train Latino children.
Susan Langdon, director and teacher at LLI, said since its inception in 1998, the institute has worked in Chaguanas with the main idea of teaching Latinos to learn English in a family environment.
Annually, more than 100 foreign adult students come to TT to learn English at LLI. During the July-August vacation season, more young students and even entire families arrive, mostly from Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina and Panama.
However, Langdon believes it is time for the LLI to advance at a formative level and since 2019 she has started the project to expand teachings to Venezuelan children currently living here.
“The idea of the school for migrant children arose when seeing that the flow of Venezuelans in TT began to rise. We want to give these children and adolescents the opportunity to take advantage of their stay here so they can advance in their educational processes,” she said.
LLI is headquartered on Mulchan Seuchan Road, Chaguanas.
Langdon explained the situation of Venezuelan migrant children is different. Being refugees, children and adolescents do not receive student visas from the Immigration Division and that is where the brake halts their education and certification.
Langdon is looking for alternatives to make the project work.
"The school is a project to give Venezuelan refugee children an opportunity for a well-rounded education. We use the University of Cambridge's bilingual curriculum from elementary through high school that leads to an international baccalaureate degree," she said.
This title does not depend on a government certification directly, but it does receive the endorsement of the Ministry of Education.
"We are in the process of obtaining an endorsement to be an official Cambridge institute. In the meantime, the students who are in high school are preparing to take their tests at a Cambridge test centre right here that awards the international high school degree at the end," she explained.
In the case of students at intermediate levels between preschool and high school, whose parents decide to end their stay at TT and go to other countries, they receive the LLI certificate stamped by the Ministry of Education and which can be apostilled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The institute has 83 students between preschool and high school in the hybrid method. Some students are attending their face-to-face classes and others virtual.
Classes are Monday through Friday from 8 am-2.30 pm.
The annual system of studies is the same used in the Trinidadian educational programme with three terms between September and July.
"We receive children at any time of the year. We take care of them, prepare them until the end of the school year and do an evaluation to find out what level they correspond to for the next school year," she said.
LLI has seven teachers certified by the Ministry of Education and other Venezuelans qualified by authorities in their country.
Mathematics, science, Spanish, English as a second language and the special Cambridge subject called global perspective, are some of the subjects scheduled at the LLI school.
“We are working to help Latino children prepare, educate themselves and have an opportunity to receive an international certification, endorsed by the Trinidadian authorities and that can serve as legal support in other countries,” Langdon said.
LLI is also expanding its courses beyond the regular schedule. Currently there are courses from Monday to Thursday from 11 am-1 pm and Sundays at different times between 8 am-3 pm.
The courses use the European framework with six levels, each with two stages.
"Each level lasts three months and students receive their certification,” she said.
Currently, more than 1,000 Venezuelan refugee children in TT are studying in the Equal Place primary programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), while adolescents are seeking their bachelor's degrees in the Dawere and Notemaster programmes.
The initial plan for these programmes was to prepare Venezuelan children to enter the Catholic education system, but until now, two years after they began, there has been no approval from local authorities.
Meanwhile refugee children continue to receive an education in various private education programmes.
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