If poor in English, Samtoy helps you

LAOAG CITY — A homegrown bookstore in Ilocos Norte has started offering an English clinic to all interested students who want to improve their command of the international lingua franca.

Samtoy Books, which is housed at the provincial government-built commercial arcade La Tabacalera located west of the Capitol in Laoag City, has become a temporary classroom for all concerned elementary, high school and college students who enrolled in the clinic to polish well their English tongues.

The bookstore got its name from the Ilocano word “samtoy”, a contraction of “Sao mi ditoy” meaning “our language here.” (Oldtimers in Laoag remember that the word “Samtoy” was popularized in the 1970s by the late Don Emilio Alvarez, a linguist, poet, librarian, college professor and book author. In succeeding years, the word “Samtoy” was adopted by the Rotary Club of Laoag as the name of its official newsletter. It was the late Rotarian Daniel “Danny” Gaces, pioneer journalist, poet, college professor, Bannawag magazine writer and owner of Crown Printers, who edited and published for years the said Samtoy newsletter for the Laoag Rotarians and their Inner Wheels counterpart.–EDITOR)

Officials said this English clinic educational opportunity offers a six month-course on grammar abilities, correct word usage, diction and pronunciation, among other skills. The course had started last August and it will end in February next year.

Gladys Foronda, bookstore manager, said the clinic will greatly enhance the students’ skills development in the mastery of the English tongue.

“This is a community service. Apart from educating the youth, we could help those who cannot afford to go further studies in expensive English-course school in an effort to hone their knowledge in the English language,” she said.

Samtoy Books had partnered with the Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte and the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) to jointly pursue the program.

“The students are coached by globally competitive and well-recognized best English teachers in Ilocos Norte,” Foronda said noting that the said teachers are the cream of the crops from the MMSU’s Department of Languages and Literature.

At present, the clinic had charged a minimal fee of P500 for well-off students who could afford to pay while the other students who are less-fortunate were fully subsidized.

Foronda said five of 20 students who are currently enrolled entered the program at no cost.

“The lectures are very beneficial because teachers can focus on the individual student’s weaknesses. We based our lectures on international English standard,” Foronda added.

The course will focus more on students’ diction and pronunciation as it enriches their vocabularies through reading materials that Samtoy Books provides.

The clinic will be completed in February in time with the annual observance of the English Month which hold competitions in creative writing and extemporaneous speech. (Cherry Joy Discaya-Garma/PIA)