Colombia: Tutoring English in a Rural High School

Columbian students in soccer uniforms.

Make a transformational difference for rural youth in Colombia through informal virtual cultural exchange and English tutoring.

Project description

Colegio Custodio García Rovira is a high school in Malaga Santander, Colombia, that was founded in 1925. The school has a proud history and a fundamental commitment to the right of education for children, youth, and adults in the region, and the development of the community towards improving quality of life. The school focuses on learning and development of ethical, moral, and social values. The school is committed to the inclusion of children with special needs and provides humanitarian services for those in need, in addition to training students to make humanitarian contributions in the world. Educational preparation also includes science and research, making appropriate and responsible use of technological tools, and other areas of specialization and focus.

Despite these great attributes, our school struggles with challenges associated with limited resources and high poverty experienced by the families of our students. While education represents an important pathway for success and achievement, our students are limited in their exposure to English instruction, which in turn affects their performance on important educational exams and future opportunities.

We are excited to partner with UB students through the ELN Project Portal to develop an informal virtual English tutoring program. We envision the following types of engagement:

  • Development of synchronous and asynchronous English tutoring modules with a focus on cultural exchange.
    • For the spring 2022 semester, synchronous sessions will take place on Thursdays from 3-4 p.m. EST. Asynchronous sessions will take place on Fridays from 8:45-9:45 a.m. EST. No sessions will be held April 17-22, 2022.      
  • Tutoring 11th grade high school students in English as a Second Language (ESL) to help them improve their conversational skills along with cross-cultural interactions.
  • Helping the school improve their students' scores on the English component of the Columbian college-entrance exam, similar to the SAT.
  • Collaboration on the development of Professional Development (PD) activities and  supplemental resources for the teachers' instruction, practices, and/or curriculum.

Project outcome

There are many options for your project outcome, which you can determine with the project mentor. Some options include:

  • Develop ESL modules in writing, grammar, conversation. 
  • Explore online synchronous and/or asynchronous tools to engage learners and prepare recommendations.
  • Develop a presentation about your experience. 
  • Design a research project around ESL engagement.

Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment February 24 - May 5, 2022
Start time February 24, 2022
Level of collaboration Tutors will work individually within a group of collaborative partners
Benefits Volunteer experience
Who is eligible All undergraduate students are welcome. Some level of Spanish is preferred, but not required. 

Core partners

Project mentor

Christina Heath

Administrative Director

Experiential Learning Network

24 Capen Hall

Phone: (716) 645-8177


Start the project

  1. Email the project mentor using the contact information above to express your interest and get approval to work on the project. (Here are helpful tips on how to contact a project mentor.)
  2. After you receive approval from the mentor to start this project, click the button to start the digital badge. (Learn more about ELN's digital badge options.) 

Preparation activities

Once you begin the digital badge series, you will have access to all the necessary activities and instructions. Your mentor has indicated they would like you to also complete the specific preparation activities below. Please reference this when you get to Step 2 of the Preparation Phase. 

  • Read this article on Supportint ELL in the Mainstream Classroom: 12 Strategies for Language Instruction.
  • Review the information available on the school's website.
  • Put together a short introductory video that you will use to introduce yourself and begin your first synchronous tutoring session. Specific instructions for this task will be given by your mentor.
  • Review additional resources given by your mentor in the initial meeting.
  • Attend the synchronous tutor orientation on February 24, 2022 at 3 p.m. on zoom.