Many of us from up-north sign up for Spanish classes so we can live a little easier while enjoying life here. Locals appreciate our efforts, and are usually quite willing to correct anything we are having a problem with. We can also be a great source of entertainment to locals as we make mistakes while learning Spanish.

Over the years, I’ve had many discussions with expats, those wintering in the area, and those on short-term visits to Jaltemba Bay, as to the best area to consider for their donated time or funds. There are more than enough charity groups and projects that want to catch your attention. Depending on local priorities and your personal beliefs, these topics can cover almost every area of life here. No matter what topic you look at, there seems to be one common denominator to the future of this resort community, or all of Riviera Nayarit, and that is locals learning English.

The student scholarship programs have been underway for a few years now, and we are seeing some of the results back in town. There will be some students who completed further education and chose to work in other parts of Mexico. There seems to be a common outcome for those returning to Jaltemba Bay, no matter what their field of study, and that is in service or tourism jobs. As this is a resort destination for Mexican families as well as tourists from up-north, and tourism is one of the major pillars of employment in Mexico, this is no surprise. We have all met Mexican families that have now returned to Jaltemba Bay after living and working in the US. These people have learned some English, and local employers see this as an asset over other potential employees. Another example is construction workers gathering experience with efficient northern construction practices and technologies. What do all of these jobs have in common? The exposure to English.

I recently had a discussion on this topic with some folks from Europe. You quite often meet Europeans that speak seven languages, and soon realize how limited our second-language education was in Canada (or USA as well, for that matter). Their common answer to this wonder is that if you plan to travel, study or do business anywhere on the planet, English will likely be the language that people revert to. Yes, there are many other up-and-coming areas of the planet that we all have to be aware of, though at this point in time, English is the language of choice. Whether these students plan to stay in Jaltemba Bay, maybe move to advance their careers elsewhere in Mexico, or possibly leave Mexico for another country, knowledge of the English language will likely play a roll in this move.

The new Community Cultural Centre in La Peñita

Locally, this study starts with the KinderAide program (top photo). Many students continue to study English in secondary schools. You will also find after-school classes that might include children and adults. English lessons are offered at the new Community Centre and I understand some students, in the interest of pay-it-forward, offer reading lessons to those with reading difficulties. Finally, there are structured classes available in local English/Spanish schools. Some locals are even studying French to round off their skills.

All of us from up-north want to leave a positive legacy in Jaltemba Bay. This is certainly one area of education to consider.

About the Author: Rob Erickson, his wife Heather and their rescue cat Mayo, spend half the year living on Vancouver Island, BC. and the other half in the Jaltemba Bay area of Mexico, where they enjoy the warm weather and slower pace of life. Now that Rob has finished building their new house in La Peñita, he can be found mountain biking around the area, volunteering at the JBAR spay and neuter clinics and relaxing in his Mexican-style hammock.

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