Saturday, May 28, 2011

 ¡No Habla Español!

After studying Spanish for two weeks at CPI, I have learned a lot about the language. On the other hand, it has made me realize how much more I need to learn to really know the language and be able to hold a substantial conversation. I quickly realized that is going to take more than the three and one half weeks I am here in Costa Rica. After thinking about this week and last week, I really understand how it feels to be a learner in a place that does not speak my language. I realized this after talking at dinner how I feel like my Tico family either thinks I am stupid or rude because sometimes I just have no idea what they are saying. It makes me frustrated sometimes because I want to say something so bad but I just cannot form the words in their language.

CPI in Heredia
 Since the class I am taking is only a Spanish class, I am not in a Spanish social studies or a Spanish mathematics class. If I think the Spanish teacher speaking in Spanish is difficult to understand when he is teaching only the language, I cannot fathom how difficult it would be to comprehend a lesson about algebraic word problems or what happened in the Korean war in a foreign language. This experience has really opened up something that I have never actually experienced first hand. I feel like I give so much more credit to the students in my high school that were not fluent in English but were taking all the same classes as me and passing them. Looking back, I know exactly how they feel when they might have put their head on the table or skipped a day in class every now and again because listening to a foreign language for hours at a time is exhausting! I have never felt as tired as I have on this trip! The beautiful hikes and the local shopping are not the activities that have made me as tired as I am; it is the Spanish classes and going home to an (almost) entirely Spanish speaking household. I just want to communicate and sometimes the only word I can get out is "sí." I have gotten better but there are times where I want to say much more than I do and I simply cannot.

Teaching at Santa Elena Elementary School

I cannot describe how this has changed my view on ESL students. I have always thought it must be tough to not be able to speak English in an English speaking classroom, but experiencing it is totally different. I never want to be the teacher that gives up trying to teach something to the students of the classroom that do not understand English. Especially after going into the schools here in Costa Rica not being able to speak their language well, I realize how much I can teach if I really try to make them understand. By teaching such hands on lessons with objects they already knew, they were much more interested than if I was to only speak to them.


  1. I've gotten caught up and look forward to hearing more about your adventures! You noted that it is exhausting just to try to understand and to make yourself understood -- how well I remember that feeling from Moscow. Don't give up! Your ready laugh will smooth over many a misunderstanding. You've probably figured out by now just how helpful gestures and the occasional pictionary-style sketch can be -- communication comes in many forms. Enjoy!!!

  2. Visit W3Schools is very convenient. There are many advantages of learning Spanish this way.