English Immersion on the Nature Island: French Students Learn about Dominca’s Environment

Members of the English immersion class from Ludicademi in Martinique.  They certainly were model students, who listened attentively and participated actively in the sessions.

Some members of the English immersion class from Ludicademi English Language School in Martinique. They certainly were model students, who listened attentively and participated actively in the sessions.

When Tina Alexander, Executive Director of Lifeline Ministries approached me about teaching English to a group of adults from Martinique, I accepted with great  delight and slight trepidation.  My task was two-fold: to better  familiarize French speakers with conversational English and to give them an overview of  vocabulary for four important Dominican topics – its environment; flora and fauna; cuisine; and culture.  These particular students from Ludicademi English language school in Martinique spent a week on Dominica.Their visit included four mornings in the classroom with me at the University of West Indies Open Campus, and  educational outings every afternoon, as well as a full weekend of activities. It was an intensive English immersion program!

As I did not know their level of English while I was preparing their classroom material, it came as a big surprise to me when they declared that they were all “Beginners” at the start of our first session.  Upon reflection, they might have thought of themselves that way, but based on their collective interest, enthusiasm and participation, I certainly disagree!  Although they occasionally asked me not to speak so quickly, I could see and hear that they were taking in a considerable amount during our lessons about the Nature Island!

In fact, it was Gervase, the youngest student in the class who answered first when I asked what they thought about Dominica after having spent only a few hours on its terrain.  “”It is very beautiful!” she declared.  What a lovely way to introduce a discussion about Dominica’s pristine environment.

Dominica is called the Nature Island because of its abundant clean air, food and water. Photo by Edwin Whitford.

Dominica is called the Nature Island because of its abundant clean air, food and water. Photo by Edwin Whitford.

Dominica's magnificent rainforest predominates in Morne Trois Pitons National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Photo taken from the peak of Morne Nicholls, en route to the Boiling Lake.  Morne Anglais can be seen in the distance.

Dominica’s magnificent rainforest predominates in Morne Trois Pitons National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Photo taken within the park from the peak of Morne Nicholls, en route to the Boiling Lake. Morne Anglais can be seen in the distance.

With the aid of several relevant video clips about Dominica (such as Are You Breathing?  and organic farmer Roy Ormond )  as well as photos, the class observed and heard about environmental initiatives on the Nature Island.  During our conversations about what makes Dominica outstanding as the Nature Island,  ‘rainforest’ was repeated over and over.  I know  that they will never forget that word, and its importance in terms of Dominica’s biodiversity and protected wilderness.  They also heard a lot about organic farming,the importance of purchasing local produce,  and a proactive organisation on-island which supports sustainable  agricultural  practises,  called DOAM. 

Of course, they were told about the sustainable living movement in Dominica too: to reduce, reuse and recycle!

Organic produce is available on the Nature Island and is a growing commodity.

Organic produce is available on the Nature Island and is a growing commodity.

The Roseau Market is the perfect place to find plentiful locally-grown produce.

The Roseau Market is the perfect place to find plentiful locally grown produce.

Geothermal activity is plentiful on the Nature Island and the government intends to make good use of this type of renewable energy for the benefit of Dominicans. Photo by Edwin Whitford.

A wind turbine provides energy for Rosalie Bay Resort, which is located on the southeast coast of Dominica.

I also had a chance to show them  a sampling of  Dominica’s renewable energy initiatives through photos and subsequent discussion.  Certainly, they were familiar with geothermal, wind turbines, solar power and hydroelectricity, but only in their mother tongue!  Now they knew something about this type of environmental awareness in English too!

Dominica derives about 50 % of its energy from hydro-electricity.  Water is certainly commonplace on the Nature Island!

Dominica derives about 50 % of its energy from hydro-electricity. Water is certainly commonplace on the Nature Island! This is the mother cascade at the twin Trafalgar Falls.  A hydro generating station is nearby.

Lenny, a tour guide from the village of Woodfordhill takes hikers on Segments 7 and 8 of the Waitukubuli National Trail.  He knows these segments very well, as he helped to build them!

Lenny, a tour guide from the village of Woodfordhill takes hikers on Segments 7 and 8 of the Waitukubuli National Trail. He knows these segments very well, as he helped to build them!

We also touched on eco-tourism, which is a vital part of Dominica’s economy. Our conversation covered  health and wellness offerings

Papillote Wilderness Retreat  is an initmate hotel in the Roseau Valley that offers health and wellness pursuits.

Papillote Wilderness Retreat is an intimate hotel and spa in the Roseau Valley that offers health and wellness pursuits.

here (hiking, natural spas, river bathing, etc.), as well as community-based initiatives. Many villages in Dominica  welcome visitors to spend time with them, partake of activities in their communities and even stay in their homes to see how they live!

I think the class was truly amazed with the diversity of  environmentally based endeavors, organizations and objectives on Dominica!  This was reinforced by their visit to Roy Ormond’s organic farm in Bellevue Chopin and a tour of The Coal Pot natural soap factory in Grand Bay that afternoon.

Before their first English immersion class was over, I gave the students a fill-in-the-blanks quiz  about Dominica’s environment. They all answered very well.  Give it a try and see how you do!

Fill in the blanks:

 

1.     Solar energy is a ________________________ energy source.

 

2.     Dominica is called the ___________________________ (2 words) because of its clean environment.

 

3.     _________________ farming means that no chemicals are used on the plants or soil.

 

4.     Many visitors who come to Dominica wish to experience _________________ and _____________ activities.

 

5.     Eco-tourism on Dominica can include____________-_____________ tourism which helps many people in small villages to earn money to support their families.

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One comment on “English Immersion on the Nature Island: French Students Learn about Dominca’s Environment

  1. […] My long time Caribbean friend, Gwenith Whitford (who also graduated from Queen’s!), lives on, and writes about, the island of Dominica in her blog, Ti Dominik Tales. Recently, she talked of Teaching ESL on the Nature Island: Class One – Dominica’s Environment […]

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