The three-year program is designed to teach socio-economically disadvantaged children practical, conversational English through interactive activities such as drawing, singing, and playing games. The program also includes an introduction to American culture which is aimed at expanding students’ view of the world beyond the orphanage walls. The English program was developed by Marianna Stradomska for Omnis. Mrs. Stradomska holds a Master’s Degree in English and beyond her successful teaching career at a private school in Lviv, oversees our Education Matters Initiative.
English is one of the most popular foreign languages among students in Ukraine. As a teacher myself, I am quite familiar with an approach to teaching English in the schools in Ukraine. The methodology focuses more on learning grammar and theory and less on reading and speaking. Besides, three hours per week are not enough to learn a foreign language, and socio-economically disadvantaged children or orphans either cannot afford additional training or don’t have an opportunity to study a foreign language at all.
At Omnis, we want children who aspire but lack the means to have a chance to learn English. Because I believe that effective learning is achieved by doing, I took a different approach to teaching. Leveraging English books generously donated to Omnis by the First Book organization, I developed a curricular that engages children and, in a practical, artistic way teaches them English.
We launched Bridge the Gap, our pilot program, at Lviv Orphanage No 1 (Ukraine), where we teach orphans from 3rd and 4th grades practical English. Our workshops provide an opportunity for each student to read, speak and express themselves in English in a friendly environment. The colorful books help our students expand their vocabulary and learn about the world behind the walls of their orphanage. I can see that our students like our approach, make progress, and become creative. The other students who are not in our class but heard about it often stop me in the hallways of the orphanage and ask if they can join the program. For me, when kids at that age have such a strong desire to learn, it is a clear indication that we are doing something right.
My vision for Bridge the Gap’s future is to have more students engaged and to hold more classes (right now, we meet only twice a week). My dream is to be able to offer Bridge the Gap to more orphanages, not just one.
We work with the orphanages and war-traumatized children. In Ukraine, applications are due by mid September. We are continuously expanding by building partnerships with local communities. To check if we work in your city or partner with us, please email us at [email protected].
Applications for the program are accepted from orphans, half-orphans, and war-traumatized children who are currently students of 1st through 4th grades.