"The Magic of Pueblo Español is in the following.... escuchar, escuchar, hablar, y hablar." Day One of Pueblo Español wrapped up with the Master of Ceremonies, Raquel, giving us the low-down and what we should expect as we embark upon an our week-long immersion.
We are in La Alberca, Spain, a charming village in Spain. I'm here for my fourth program with Diverbo, a company that runs "Pueblo Inglés" (English immersion) and "Pueblo Español" (Spanish immersion), My three previous experiences were as a volunteer, so I'm excited to see the other side to the story. This time, I'm the student, and for the next week, English is forbidden. (Out of the frame of this blog, that is.)
I'm here with 8 other Anglos (English speakers) who come from all over the world. Details on their native countries will follow, but I will say now that our backgrounds and countries are as varied as can be, making this experience even more interesting. Our "teachers," or rather the Spanish volunteers, are Spaniards from throughout Spain. They've graciously taken a week out of their lives to come to La Alberca to help us Anglos with our Spanish.
Together, we Anglos and Spaniards, will make magic this week. I'm familiar with the magic of Pueblo Inglés, and now I look forward to seeing how it compares to the magic Raquel is talking about, from the perspective of a language learner. Raquel explains that the magic is in the conversations, not from grammatical lectures, seat work, or traditional school-like lessons. As Anglos, we learn the language best by being in a setting similar that of a child learning a language, where we can "listen, listen, and talk, talk..." she repeated the words to let them sink in. Further, she reveals the real life example of her 4 year old, a boy being raised in a bilingual household where she speaks to him only in English, while she and his father speak Spanish. Her son speaks Spanish back to them. His grandparents speak Spanish to him. Yet, he understands English perfectly, 100%. A child, she tells us, doesn't go into language learning with expectations or "road blocks," he simply listens, repeats, and responds.
This is our job this week- to listen, respond in the best way we can, and let the magic happen naturally. Most importantly, Raquel has given us the stipulation that during our experience here, we must do one more thing... we must enjoy ourselves. This is mandatory, and another way to allow the language immersion to flow freely. It's also, I believe, the secret to why Spaniards seem so happy and everyone wants to come to Spain. Enjoying life appears to be a rule in this country. Perhaps that's part of the magic too.
Raquel wraps up her "what should we expect this week" talk by telling us that essentially, today has been rather "easy" by Diverbo standards. We were given free time to rest, adjust, and get settled in our new village. Tomorrow the work begins and our schedule will have us listening and talking from 9 am until perhaps midnight. Watch for reports on the magic unfolding...I know I'm in for an amazing experience. Join me as I see what this is all about. Stay tuned!
(There is a "cheater" way to find more about what I'm about to experience! If you can't wait for my daily reports and want to learn more about these two immersion programs, go to Diverbo.com for more info.)