English Classes for Artesanos (2008-Present)



Since 2008, FOFA has provided a series of English classes for artesanos, which greatly enhances their prospects for communicating with clients.


Nearly twenty artists asked FOFA to help them learn English.  We organized a pilot program of 12 classes taught by FOFA member Sandra Kirkland to offer specialized English instruction program to these valued artisans.

The curriculum focused on the vocabulary, pronunciation and written skills needed for describing their work, negotiating sales and fulfilling orders. Books and tuition were made possible by generous donations.

In view of the enthusiasm of participating artesanos, 12 additional classes were added, again via funds donated to FOFA.




FOFA volunteers provided two opportunities for artesanos to learn English in ways specifically geared to communicating with clients.

In February, 2010, Nina Bellak from the San Francisco area taught twice weekly classes to tapete weavers in Teotitlán del Valle. She and her husband were generously hosted by master weaver Bulmaro Pérez Mendoza and his wife, Aurea Bautista Lazo in their home, where classes for approximately 15 weavers took place.

In February-March 2010, Suzanne Grant, from Minneapolis, taught weekly classes to a group made up primarily of ceramicists and woodcarvers from a variety of pueblos. Mariano Pineda Matus, Director of the Taller de Artes Plásticas Rufino Tamayo — where contest winners studied art — was kind enough to offer FOFA space for these classes. Suzanne, an experienced ESL teacher, wrote after the third class:

We worked on a dialogue to use when customers come to their homes, times of day, and some verbs associated with their work: make, take, buy, sell, want, be. Next week, I’m going to develop some exercises for review of what we’ve covered so far and focus on materials and processes they use for creating their art.

I have a friend here and she’s going to come and we’ll have a short, simple dialogue so they can practice listening and understanding. It’s been fun to work with this group and I do feel like I’m making some contribution to the artists whose work I love so much.



Suzanne Grant returned to teach three months of English classes from February through early April as part of an integrated capacity building course.


Catherine Hemenway, who just settled in Oaxaca, has resumed teaching this class in early May through the end of June.


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