Yucatán proposes a new plan to compete through teaching English

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
A surprising number of professionals in Yucatán have little to no English skills, which Yucatán’s Gov. argues is costing the state investment. Photo: Courtesy

As the region becomes increasingly international, more school children in Yucatan are poised to learn English.

According to a recent European study, only two out of every 10 high school students are proficient in English.

This is despite the fact that most students in Yucatán in both public and private schools take English as a subject as early as Grade 7.

To address the problem, Gov. Mauricio Vila Dosal has announced a plan to create a bilingual schooling system in Yucatán with a starting budget of 4 million pesos. 

The current curriculum’s failure is largely blamed on a lack of training for English teachers, who often have poor English skills themselves and run exercises and assignments blindly from textbooks and other materials. 

The problem is not only academic, as a growing number of international companies are investing in Yucatán but are having trouble filling jobs due to linguistic limitations. 

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The pilot program will kick off in schools in Mérida, Kanasín, Valladolid, Tizimín, Umán, Progreso, Tekax, Ticul, Motul, Oxkutzcab, Izamal, Peto, Maxcanú, and Didzantún.

But among educators, there is growing skepticism that the allotted budget is anywhere close to being enough to hire and train an adequate number of well-trained English teachers. 

Wages for teachers in Yucatán run an average of 11,400 pesos (US$615) a month, according to glassdoor.com. That is considerably less than what a professional with good English skills can make working in the growing call-center industry or tourism sector. 

The government of Yucatán’s plan flies in the face of statements by President Lopéz Obrador, who has repeatedly argued that indigenous languages like Mayan and Nahuatl should be taught in school instead of English. 

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