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