Menomadin Foundation and TALMA collaborate to open an English Studies Summer School in Angola

The Menomadin Team
August 13, 2023

English teachers from Israel and Jewish communities around the world traveled to Angola this summer to lead a one-of-a-kind summer school, teaching local children and adults the English language. The summer school in Angola is part of a collaboration between the Menomadin Foundation and TALMA, The Israel Program for Excellence in English, and was launched following a successful pilot last year.

The program takes place on the grounds of the Foundation of Arts and Culture (“The Fundação”), a subsidiary of the Menomadin Foundation, which operates a thriving community center in Luanda to promote local culture and art. Located in the heart of the poverty-stricken Ilha neighborhood, the community center was established by the model of the Israeli Matnas, offering children and youth a variety of art and music classes, all free of charge. For adults, the center offers educational and enrichment classes and holds cultural events for the benefit of the local community.

English for Tikkun Olam

The summer English learning activity known as “Summer School”, is designed to enable students with the opportunity to learn English through an exceptional experience, which also allows the self-confidence required to use the language in everyday life. In Israel, the TALMA program has been operating successfully for a decade, with hundreds of English teachers from Jewish communities around the world visiting the country every summer to provide children from low-income communities with experiential learning of the language. The program was established with a Zionist motive, aiming to deepen the connection of Diaspora Jews with Israel and Israeli society, and advocate equal opportunity in education. The success of the program led Menomadin Foundation CEO Dr. Merav Galili to approach TALMA and offer to expand the program’s purpose to Tikkun Olam as well.

A Menomadin Foundation Strategic Philanthropy collaboration with TALMA: A Summer School that enables local children and adults in Angola the opportunity to learn English through an exceptional experience. Photo by: Fundação Arte e Cultura

A Menomadin Foundation Strategic Philanthropy collaboration with TALMA: A Summer School that enables local children and adults in Angola the opportunity to learn English through an exceptional experience. Photo by: Fundação Arte e Cultura

“Following the successful pilot in Angola last summer, we decided to launch a summer school in Angola as well,” says TALMA CEO Ido Mahatzri. The pilot included three teachers from Israel and the United States, who traveled to Angola for a period of three weeks. As part of the experience, the young and highly motivated teachers moved into apartments in Ilha itself. “Living in the neighborhood enabled the teachers to become part of the community and its daily life, to build meaningful social bonds with the residents and to gain a first-hand understanding of their lives,” he explains.

“The responses were amazing”

“The responses last year were amazing,” Ido continues, “The teachers were pleasantly surprised by the local students’ enthusiasm and ability to learn English, and realized how important it was for them to improve their knowledge of the language in terms of the opportunities it may allow them in the future.”

The summer school studies in Angola will begin every summer in July and will last three weeks, similar to the TALMA program’s curriculum in Israel. The first week is dedicated to getting to know each other, with the teachers adjusting to Angola and its different culture and style, while the students undergo tests to determine their English level and are divided into groups accordingly. The teaching method at the summer school is different from that of regular schools, with an emphasis on enrichment and an experience that will enable one to conduct oneself in English with confidence. The learning is carried out, among other things, by a range of creative, hands-on experiences, all delivered entirely in English. These include science experiments, cooking, music and more.

Due to the high demand and the favorable responses, it was decided to expand the summer school to include local teachers, as a professional training that will enable them to improve their skills and continue the activity during the school year. Artists working with the Fundação also joined the classes, looking to improve their English. “English is a very important tool for building social mobility and to enable local innovation to cross borders,” says Ido, “The local artists know that English can have a significant impact on their careers, help them make connections and collaborations around the world, and we were happy to accept their request to join the program.” Thus, a total of 60 children and 20 adults participated in Summer School 2023 in Angola.

A Co-Teaching Model

The teachers in TALMA are professional English language teachers who work in schools around the world. They teach at the summer school on a volunteer basis, with the days divided into two parts: one classroom-based, which includes learning through textbooks and lesson plans, and an experiential second part, based on a variety of inventive activities, all taught using the PBL approach (Project-Based Learning).

In addition to teachers from the United States, this year’s summer school also included two teachers from Colombia. “Another conclusion that emerged from the pilot was that Spanish-speaking teachers would find it easier to communicate with the local community after school hours, so this time, alongside English- and Hebrew-speaking teachers, we also included Spanish-speaking teachers,” says Ido. The teachers from the U.S. and Colombia joined the local teachers in a “co-teaching” model, with each study group including a local teacher and a teacher from abroad. “We saw that not only did the local teachers learn and improve from the encounter with the ‘abroad’ teachers, but the abroad teachers testified that they were contributed by working alongside the local teachers as well,” he says.

Summer School in Angola: "The teachers were pleasantly surprised by the local students' enthusiasm and ability to learn English." Photo by: Fundação Arte e Cultura

Summer School in Angola: “The teachers were pleasantly surprised by the local students’ enthusiasm and ability to learn English.” Photo by: Fundação Arte e Cultura

“An unforgettable experience”

Jorge Zea, who works as an English teacher at a Jewish school in Colombia, came to Angola to help change the world. “I am a passionate educator who believes in the power of errors to transform the world,” he explains, “I have been teaching English as a second language for more than 20 years and I feel fortunate to be part of the amazing TALMA project in the Fundação.” Jorge, who refers to himself as “a proud father and husband,” adds that participating in the initiative gave him a chance to devote time to his love of traveling the world. “I’m lucky enough to have my daughter’s and wife’s permission to be part of TALMA, I guess they needed a break too,” he adds with a smile, “It was an unforgettable experience.” Dvora Gila Duce came to Angola from New York. Since graduating and earning several academic degrees in Education, she has been teaching what she calls “English Language Arts” to eight-graders at a Brooklyn middle school . “TALMA allowed me to combine my love of teaching English with my love of traveling and exploring cultures around the world,” she says.

“The enjoyable experience and the fact that people chose to learn English voluntarily led to an enabling and supportive atmosphere for speaking English,” says Fundação General Director Naama Margalit, “everyone at the Fundação started speaking English all of a sudden, or at least tried to, without being embarrassed. The impact was immediate, on the children, on the adults. I am grateful to TALMA for this wonderful initiative and for choosing teachers full of unconditional love, with a desire to share knowledge and goodness with the world.”

“I thank the Menomadin Foundation and Fundação for giving us the opportunity to work in Angola,” concludes Ido, “I thank Naama Margalit for her commitment to the success of our joint mission. It is a great privilege to promote the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam in places where there is no food or educational security. In doing so, we are sending a message that the State of Israel and the Jewish people are always proud to work for the common good. We are proud to create opportunities for young professionals from Israel and the Diaspora to find common grounds and work together towards an important cause.”

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