Schooling in Santo Domingo Este - Parents & Educators please help

TropicalPaul

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Sep 3, 2013
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I have always taken care of my god-daughter's schooling. She is now 8 turning 9 in September. She started at Cathedral School when she was 3 - we chose the school because it supposedly taught everything in English. She attends every day from 8am and also does after school classes until about 4pm. The issue is that she has fallen behind with her English comprehension, and despite several meetings with the principal where they agree to give her extra help, at age 8 she is now unable to understand basic sentences in English, so is really unable to do any of the classes. It's pitiful, she can read and pronounce the words, but when you ask her what they mean she has no idea. Basic words like "four" and "when" are beyond her. Yesterday I tried to help her with a test they had given her, but she had no idea what any of the questions or answers meant. I think the main issue is that they have mixed kids who speak English at home with kids who don't, so some kids have way stronger English skills. And then they teach everything in English, so if you don't understand English you fall behind. The school is saying that she chats too much to her classmates, but I can pretty much understand why she does if she has no idea what is going on. And the only thing that Cathedral seem to do well is to say it's not their fault and blame other people (how very Dominican) - blame her mother, blame Covid, blame the government, blame someone who used to work there, blame another school nearby for closing, but do nothing at all to solve the problem. They have "accidently" doubled class sizes this year due to an admin error, so my god-daughter is now stuck in a class with twice as many students.

Please can I have some suggestions for a) schools and b) home tutors who could help her? They live near Avenida Venezuela. I'm wondering whether it might be better to send her to a school where everything is taught in Spanish in the mornings, and then some proper one-to-one English teaching (maybe by one of the DR1 community). I know there are educators on this forum and I'd really welcome their input.

Can I also please ask people to stay off this thread with stupid comments or OT remarks. I am feeling emotional about this, this is a little girl who is practically my daughter and I just need your help please DR1.
 
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user123

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Aug 16, 2017
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I can't recommend you a school but I tell you if possible force her to watch English TV channels at home, you gotta force it because at first the kid won't understand anything and naturally will want to switch to Spanish, but if you can force it only after a few months she will begin to understand because a child's brain will connect what she see on the screen and what's being said, then soon after she will be able to speak too, and her pronunciations will be great. Also put closed captioning on too so she learns spelling.
 

TropicalPaul

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Sep 3, 2013
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Paul I know nothing about this school but it is in Alma Rosa, about five minutes from Avenida de Venezuela. https://www.facebook.com/High-Steps-Bilingual-School-139851829420216/
I will ask my wife's cousin where they send their kids ( it is bilingual and in east Santo Domingo. A question for you, how are her grades in other classes like Spanish and math. Maybe she has learning problems?
I think it's a possibility that she has learning difficulties. The main issue I think is that she doesn't understand English sufficiently well, the entire class is being taught in English and she is up against kids whose mother tongue is English. My god-daughter's mother and family don't speak a word of English, and as often as I've tried to talk to her in English, she just replies in Spanish.

My plan is to find a good school where everything is taught in Spanish, and then get her some 1-1 lessons in English privately. And hopefully with a new school they will keep an eye on her and see if she has any learning difficulties. She is incredibly confident, a natural leader, always at the centre of what's going on. Put her in a group of kids and within a few minutes everyone will know her name and will be doing what she wants them to do. But such a strong character can often mask weaknesses and you're right there could be some learning problems. How could I get those assessed?
 

CRL2017

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Apr 25, 2017
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Hello,

I am just seeing this thread. My background is a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist with bilingual Spanish/English training from the USA. If your god-daughter is experiencing a lot of difficulty acquiring a second language and is not able to recognize simple words like you explain in your initial thread then I would first of all rule out any learning/developmental concerns that may be impacting her abilities in her native language first and then she can get support to learn English.

Children typically pick up language, especially in a full English immersion setting, pretty quickly. There may be something impacting her ability to learn. I know of centers in the SD area that have licensed speech-language specialists and psychologists who may be able to conduct a psycho-educational evaluation and help provide the appropriate information to guide some of her programming in school (listed below).

Personally, I would run not walk away from a school that is not willing to help problem solve and figure out what is stopping her learning. That does not sound like a good school for her and I would probably go with your instincts and change schools.

Que Hacer Con Mis Hijos (https://quehacerconmishijosrd.com/quienes-somos/) is run by a well-known educator in SD and she may be a good resource for school information as well. I am not sure what she will share with you in terms of resources but it does not hurt to reach out to her and see what options she may know of.

COPE – Centro de Orientacion Psicologica & Educativa

Dirección / Teléfonos

(Address / Phone Numbers)

Ave Winston Churchill #1018
Edif. Colonial, 2do piso, Evaristo Morales
Santo Domingo, República Dominicana
Tel.: (809) 565-0187
info@copesd.com

Horarios (hours of operation)

lunes a jueves (Monday to Thursday): 8am – 7pm
Viernes (Friday): 8am – 6pm
sábados (Saturday): 9am – 12pm

http://copesd.com/contacto/

Obviously with this COVID-19 situation I do not know how they are handling new referrals and the cost of evaluations but I can provide the information. I would be happy to help but I am not in the DR right now. If you want me to read any reports or give you any more feedback, I am happy to help.
 

Auryn

Well-known member
Apr 22, 2012
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I’m a teacher with most of my experience in Canada and some in the DR. Like the previous poster said, it’s a red flag that she isn’t understanding basic words. Excellent advice provided there.

But an even bigger red flag for me is the schools reaction. The first thing they should have done is offered some type of support for her, by means of school- based programming or at least a tutor list. These schools are often for profit, so retention and $ in the form of students are high priorities. This can translate into high standards and excellent quality, or an extreme lack thereof.

Their response seems blasé to me, which in itself is alarming.
 

NotLurking

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Jul 21, 2003
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I too am seeing this thread now, I'm sorry your god daughter is having leaning difficulties at Cathedral. I understand your dismay with the callous response from the school but maybe the issue is a bit more than just the school. Two of my children attended Cathedral and it was a great experience for the kids and for me as well.

My son, the oldest, was a transfer student from Dominico Americano. His first year at Cathedral was fifth grade and he had a limited understanding of english. He graduate in 2008 valedictorian and speaks perfect english and spanish.

My daughter started there in first grade with no english skill other than what she pickup from watching english cable channels and her brother; her mother's english skills were not the greatest. When her brother graduated from Cathedral, she had just finished six grade. After her brother left, she didn't want to continue her studies there. I enrolled her in Dominico Americans for seventh grade. She was well received there with many praises from her teachers both for her english and academic skill level. I give full credit to Cathedral for teaching her well.

I'm sorry I don't have a school recommendation for you and I know that my interactions with Cathedral was about twelve years ago but I had a very good experience with the school. I have many fond memories of the school, teachers and staff and so do my children. I share my experience with you in the hope that it will help you in some way.

Is Dolores or Doña Miriam still at the school? They use to run the school like clock work. Perhaps management has degraded or perhaps your god daughter may need some expert help. Whatever it may be, I wish you and your god daughter the best of luck.
 

TropicalPaul

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Sep 3, 2013
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Hi people, many thanks for your help. A Dominican teacher friend of mine recommended Colegio Santa Teresa near to her home in Avenida Venezuela. Last week they did an assessment which lasted for over an hour. All the subjects taught in Spanish she passed - my teacher friend was there and he said he was really shocked at how well she did. The subjects which Cathedral had taught in English she completely flunked. But she was accepted and the school has agreed to help her. Clearly she doesn't have learning difficulties, the issue is quite simply that she hasn't picked up English, Cathedral has crammed over 30 kids in each class with an American teacher, and those kids who don't speak English at home have been left behind. The new school teaches mainly in Spanish and I just want to concentrate now on getting her general education up to speed and build in some private lessons in English as well.

I think Cathedral used to be a good school but it seems to have had a change in ownership and certainly the emphasis now seems to be on squeezing in as many kids as possible. The new school said to my teacher friend they couldn't believe how many enquiries they were getting from parents of Cathedral children, so I think this is an issue.
 
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NotLurking

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Jul 21, 2003
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Hi people, many thanks for your help. A Dominican teacher friend of mine recommended Colegio Santa Teresa near to her home in Avenida Venezuela. Last week they did an assessment which lasted for over an hour. All the subjects taught in Spanish she passed - my teacher friend was there and he said he was really shocked at how well she did. The subjects which Cathedral had taught in English she completely flunked. But she was accepted and the school has agreed to help her. Clearly she doesn't have learning difficulties, the issue is quite simply that she hasn't picked up English, Cathedral has crammed over 30 kids in each class with an American teacher, and those kids who don't speak English at home have been left behind. The new school teaches mainly in Spanish and I just want to concentrate now on getting her general education up to speed and build in some private lessons in English as well.

I think Cathedral used to be a good school but it seems to have had a change in ownership and certainly the emphasis now seems to be on squeezing in as many kids as possible. The new school said to my teacher friend they couldn't believe how many enquiries they were getting from parents of Cathedral children, so I think this is an issue.
Thanks for the update. I wish you and your God daughter all the best.
 
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