Cuban English language learners aim for jobs in private sector, teacher says

Teacher dreams of private school for English language learners in Cuba

By Hatzel Vela - Cuba Correspondent

HAVANA - With an increase in English-speaking tourists, there is a demand for Cubans who can communicate with them, a teacher in Havana said. 

English teacher Jorge Rodriguez said there is demand for English-speaking workers in the highly-regulated private sector. Those jobs, he says, pay significantly more than the public sector. 

Rodriguez said he understands his students' eagerness to find a way out of poverty. He started to learn English when he was 17 and has been teaching at a state-run facility for about 15 years. 

"At that time, my mother was cleaning floors in a secondary school and I didn't want her to do that job.," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said he saw an increase in students after the diplomatic opening between Cuba and the U.S. Rodriguez said President Donald Trump's policy hasn't changed the demand. Classes are always full. 

Students like Miguel Valcarcel pay 75 Cuban pesos, or about $3, for a 3-month course. He said his grandfather was the first to teach him some words. 

"I wanted to know what the video games said, so I started by little words like buildings, attack," Varcacel said. "I started to work in a gallery and I realized I knew nothing."  

Rodriguez dreams with opening a private academy.
 

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