The first two weeks of my internship were in Washington D.C, where an IEDP cohort-mate and I were introduced to the English program we were going to be working with and prepared for the field work. I not only learned more about Interactive Audio Instruction (IAI), but also observed how this specific nonprofit organization functions. I was able to sit in on other meetings related to other projects the organization was grappling with. We also had numerous meetings with our supervisor to understand the English program’s components and plan our work abroad.
Besides learning about the history of the program; what its current role in the community is; and what still needs to be done, I mainly worked on two tasks while at the office. I updated and created new versions of the English assessments used for measuring student learning. My creative writing skills were were put to use when asked to create twenty short stories for an IAI segment of the program’s sequel. Some smaller tasks included updating the master business contact sheet of many countries’ ministries of education, and editing/translating documents and emails to Spanish.
I feel like it was very beneficial to first observe how the organization and its leaders work in the headquarters. We were pretty much independent on the island set to create our own working schedule and report back to our supervisor weekly, if necessary.
We had a ambitious plan: collaborate with the ministry of education, meet with teachers, observe the classrooms, assess the children, analyze the data, and write a report. But life is never perfect. Like I mentioned before, the political climate in Honduras directly impacted the education sector. Teachers were on strike for the entire month of June. School had been on and off since April, but there was no school for the entirety of June, except for three days.
We reached out to teachers and directors and were able to meet up with the director of the Intercultural Bilingual Education office during the first few days. We had to adapt our original plan, as the situation was out of our hands, and hone in n the qualitative data collection instead.
We had already create the interview protocol, and many teachers were willing to participate and invite us to their classrooms to chat about their opinions and attitude towards the program. Since there was no school, many teachers were available to meet up during the week. We took advantage of the aligning schedules to conduct as many interviews as possible. We recorded those interviews whenever appropriate and later transcribed them. Then, we created a codebook for the data that we gathered, which was revised and edited throughout the analysis period. Since we didn’t have the proper coding software, we ended up utilizing Word to highlight and code, which led to printing the coded transcripts to analyze. This qualitative research took the entire month of June and the majority of July. Our first draft of the midline report was completed by the last week of July, which was useful during the brief presentation we gave to the Rotary Club for funding purposes.
Although we didn’t start administrating assessments until early July, we were able to collect a significant amount of data, enough to input the data into Excel, PowerQuery, and create a dashboard with PowerBI. We even included the quantitative data in our report!
I was very much invested in learning how to use Survey To Go software, which was the software used to create the assessments. Using the revised oral assessment questions, I created a survey with pre-recorded audio recordings in Survey To Go. We tested more than 100 students in about two weeks in early July, which was more than what I expected we get. I learned how to export the data from the software, and then clean the data in PowerQuery. From there, one of the organization’s data analyst taught us how to create a dashboard to present our findings. After creating the Dashboard and exporting some graphs and chats, the report looked more complete as the quantitative data reflected and highlighted the current situation every teacher discussed in the interviews.
The IAI English program consists of 100 lessons and within each 40 minute lesson there are seven segments, each focusing on vocabulary, listening, and writing skills. The program also has quizzes aligned with the lessons. There is a Spanish teacher’s guide accompanying the program as well.
There was a need to revise the teachers guide for spelling mistakes, grammar errors, and assure synchronization with the audio lessons. I listened to half of the program (50 lessons), and fixed many minuscule errors. Although, I’m pretty sure I also missed a bunch as it was sometimes difficult to not tune out. After listening to all those lessons, I’m pretty sure I can sing all of those catchy songs by heart!
My supervisor has planned a sequel program with the subsequent English level, and for that reason I had written and edited the 20 short stories. Another task we had for this sequel was to design, from scratch, 20 quizzes that reflected the lessons’ concepts.
I was given the opportunity to do some audio editing and recording, too! Unfortunately, I didn’t have time during my time in D.C. or else I would have definitely dabbled in studio recording and editing for the sequel.
New Business and Partnerships
The organization was working on expanding the program to other Latin American countries that may need an innovative and interactive method of teaching English. I updated the contact sheet by checking the ministries of education websites and searching for the appropriate people to connect with for future partnerships and/or sustaining them.
I became responsible for contacting the ministries of education in Peru, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and later on contacted a university in Chile for possible implementation of the IAI program. Although not everyone I emailed was responsive, I was able to communicate with a couple ministries and discuss the possible outcomes of using the IAI program. These meetings were very valuable to me since I was able to be part of a real business meeting, and I put my academic Spanish into practice! Other tasks I contributed in were writing up a Terms of Reference for the ministry of Panama, and writing a proposal to implement the program for a two year grant period.
Of course, the internship tasks had its fun moments and I enjoyed learning everything I could, but we also did some pretty cool things on the island!
- We went to the West Bay beach and soaked up the sun whenever possible.
- I had never seen mangroves in person. A local friend took us on a mangrove boat tour. It was so magical! I literally felt like I was in a storybook.
- I love trying new foods, so I made sure to ask around and eat local food. I tried pollochuco (fried plantain with chicken on top and marinated with a scrumptious sauce), machuca (local Garifuna cuisine), semitas (bread pastry), and other delicious food.
And lastly, I spontaneously got a haircut – chopping off more than 20 inches of hair!