Hablo, Habla, Hablamos… Español

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 12.20.13 PMBy Brooke Gazer

If you are planning a week’s vacation in Mexico, no one expects you to speak more than a couple of words in Spanish: por favor and gracias should cover it. But for those of us who spend time in Mexico, it is only good manners to make an effort at communicating in the native tongue of our hosts. Unlike many cultures, (English speakers included) the people of Mexico are incredibly tolerant when someone butchers their language and they are very receptive to those making an effort. No mater how badly you speak the gesture will enhance your experience with the local people. We all make mistakes when we are learning and it can actually be fun if you adopt a good sense of humor.

When considering studying Spanish in Mexico, places like Cuernavaca, Queretaro and Oaxaca immediately come to mind. They are lovely colonial cities laced with antiquity, culture and fabulous architecture. These cities have formal institutions set up for language study and often coordinate with universities across North America.   If getting a few bonus credits are not part of you purpose however, you might consider a seaside location like Huatulco. There are several options here with teachers who are qualified specifically to teach Spanish to Adults.

Adults learn differently than children and the reasons for this are varied and complex. One simple explanation is that adults enter the learning environment with experience. Think about learning to ski.   Your first day on the slope a novice 5 year old effortlessly zooms by as you are gingerly maneuvering downhill. How can they master it so quickly? They are not thinking about falling, running into trees or plaster leg casts. In short, they have no fear. Adults often approach learning with negative experiences which hold them back. This could be fear of injury or simply being intimidated at the possibility of appearing foolish. However, adults also approach learning with a wide range of positive experiences which, if recognized and applied appropriately, will allow them to capitalize on past experience and generalize them into new skills!

This is an important point since instructors who are properly qualified in adult education and specifically in teaching a foreign language, will help you to make the make the most of your time and to have a more positive experience. In addition to certified teachers there are a few locals offering very informal Spanish lessons held at the beach or in coffee shops. For the small difference in price you will be much happier with a qualified instructor. Ask for credentials and then enjoy the journey into a new experience of Mexico. Take it one step at a time… you do not need to become fluent but as you begin to communicate a whole new world will open to you.

The following are certified to teach Spanish to adults…

Sue Rivell McClam has a master’s degree in teaching Spanish and runs Huatulco Intensive Language Courses located on Blvd. Benito Juarez in Chahué. In 2009 she retired from Columbia College, S.C. where she taught Spanish and Methods of Teaching Foreign Languages. After 22 years of teaching at the university level she now enjoys working in Huatulco. Sue offers classes in small group settings with a focus on building a supportive environment for learning. She helps students connect words and phrases to gestures and pictures to create a more natural way of learning while applying a communicative approach to teaching language that addresses individual learning styles and utilizes a variety of materials. Several levels of Spanish classes are offered with placement determined on an individual basis. Sue divides her time between Huatulco and Columbia S.C. so courses are offered at various times throughout the year. Check the schedule and course costs on her webpage http://www.huatulcolanguagecourses.com or email her at suemcclam@gmail.com.

Edith Vasquez is a Professional Teacher of foreign language. She spent 5 years learning English in the USA and has a certificate in “Imparticion Cursos ESL Grupales Presenciales”. For the past 20 years she has been employed at CECATI, an adult education institute in Huatulco, where she teaches various levels of English as a Second Language to diverse groups of adults. She offers Spanish classes in her home in Sector K during the late afternoon and evenings. Edith evaluates each new student on their speaking, listening and reading skills and discusses their individual objectives. Then using a variety of materials she helps her students to achieve those specific goals. In addition to the in-house classes she likes to take students on “field trips” to the market and other locations where, with her assistance, they can develop confidence in “real life situations”. Classes have one to three students per class and cost 800 pesos for 12 sessions. She can be reached by cell phone 958 101 3393 or email eedithvasquez@hotmail.com

Adriana Moreno has a degree in Education from Chicago and a diploma as an English teacher in Mexico. With 12 years of teaching experience, she works with Mexican children and adult groups learning English as well as foreign adults studying Spanish. For her Spanish classes she uses a series of textbooks titled “Español para Extranjeros” (Spanish for Foreigners) which are specifically designed for people who are living in Mexico. The books are in 3 stages and each costs 150 pesos. After a brief conversation Adriana will determine what level the student needs. Since most of her foreign students are at different levels with different objective, she offers mostly private lessons at 100 pesos per hour. Her classroom is located upstairs in Plaza Oaxaca, across from the Zocalo in la Crucecita.   She can be reached by Phone at 958 111 5721 or email adrimoreno1@yahoo.com.mx .

Gudrun Clausen has a Masters degree in Curriculum Design from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, in addition to a 3 year TESL Certificate. She taught at UMAR for 5 years before opening her language school in Huatulco. Although most of her students are Spanish speaking she also offers Beginner and Survival lessons in Spanish. Gudrun is multilingual, bringing her experience in both curriculum development and language study to the classroom. Using a variety of materials she accesses individual needs and adapts a program specifically for each student. She begins each program by explaining the differences between languages, including elements like pronunciation, conjugation and sentence structure. She offers private lessons for 125 pesos per hour and if enough students are interested offers group sessions at 570 pesos for 12 lessons per month.   Her classroom is in Santa Cruz is just in front of the immigration office.   She can be contacted by phone (958) 587 1923 or by email gudruncls@yahoo.com.mx

Brooke Gazer owns a bed & breakfast in Huatulco, Agua Azul la Villa www.bbaguaazul.com

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