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Haiti Partners launches an innovative approach to learning English through ‘Language Hangouts’

VERO BEACH, Florida – Haiti Partners, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping Haitians change Haiti through education, formally announced the launch of the new Language Hangouts project, an initiative developed to help students in Haiti learn English through web-based conversations with native English speakers.

“For Haitians, learning English isn’t just about acquiring another tool, it’s about opening doors and creating a new world of economic and social possibilities,” said John Engle, Co-Founder and Co-Director of Haiti Partners. “Our Language Hangouts provide students with the critical opportunity to learn the language not just from a text book or in classroom exercises but in real life conversations with native English speakers. They’re learning the idiosyncrasies and colloquial expressions that are necessary for fluency and success with the language.”

In the Language Hangouts, a North American-based volunteer is matched with a Haitian English language learner between the ages of 16 and 30. Each week the pair “meets” at a designated time using online video conferencing to chat face to face in English about everything from sports to cultural holiday traditions. The volunteer participates from the comfort of their home while the Haitian student participates from the Haiti Partners’ flagship school, the Children’s Academy and Learning Center (known as “ADECA” in Haiti). Video conferencing was only recently made possible at ADECA by the addition of infrastructure allowing for high speed Internet.

WATCH: Why Language Hangouts >>

“It’s nothing short of incredible to be able to sit in my home and have a real conversation with a student in Haiti,” said Kristin Pladson, a volunteer with the Language Hangouts program. “Whether they’ve been learning English for a week or a year, it’s amazing how much we can communicate simply by bringing a little patience, a lot of excitement and respect to the meeting. It’s just an honor to be even a small part of something that almost certainly will change my partner’s life, and possibly Haiti as a whole, for the better.”

The Language Hangouts project, conceived and pioneered by Board Member Jesse Engle, builds on Haiti Partners’ existing efforts to provide quality education to Haitians of all ages. In 2012, the program opened the doors to ADECA as a place of learning and innovation for children and a center of activity for the community. A model for transformative education and leadership approaches, the school is now home to 120 preschool and kindergarten students, a healthcare clinic, community bakery and training center. Haiti Partners plans to continue to grow the school to include a primary and secondary school, and an agricultural, environmental and social business hub.

For more information, contact Brian Ballard at Haiti Partners at 772-226-0034 or brian@haitipartners.org. You can also visit Haiti Partners Language Hangouts online to learn more and sign up: www.haitipartners.wpengine.com/languagehangouts.

Download the Press Release as a PDF.

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