Linguae Viventes

Linguist. Optimist. Exhibitionist. This is my story.

Archive for the tag “Castro”

Not a Goodbye Letter!!

First and foremost I would like to begin by expressing my sincere appreciation for your encouragement, prayers, positive vibes, kind thoughts, time, and love throughout this life changing experience.  Whether it was allowing me to clean your house, wash your car; tutor your kid(s), some other odd job, or simply a heartfelt love offering…I would not have made it to Chile without your kindness. I have been changed.

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Teaching in Chile has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences in my life. This opportunity has been much more than about teaching…my mission has been to share my passion for second language learning and to motivate and inspire these students to not only learn English, but to also apply it to their daily lives and to look within themselves to progress and grow as English speakers.

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The language learning process is about throwing yourself into something that often is be completely unnatural and awkward so you can make mistakes, learn from them, and progress onward with the experiences and lessons learned. There were classes that fell flat, times where I had to spend the better part of a class doing battle with the perpetual talkers, dazed gamers, and desk artists. There were also classes where the kids were actively plugged in, laughing at me for standing on a desk or stuffing myself into a cabinet to teach them prepositions of location. Every class came with a healthy serving of energy and good humor. I really sought to boost their confidence and to encourage them to break the glass ceiling that is comprised of their nervousness and fears of speaking and messing up. Beyond being a passionate language lover, I sought to be an example having been put through the same awkwardness and frustrations in learning to speak coherently in Spanish. Every class reiterated the theme of “I don’t expect perfection because I don’t speak perfect Spanish.” All you need to bring are an open mind, a positive attitude, and a willingness to try something new. There is nothing more rewarding than your kids coming up to you in the hallway and daring to have that simple conversation with you, using the tools and tips that were shared with them in class.

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Along the way I have made some awesome new friends and added to my ever-expanding international family. Living with three women and a kitten might look like a recipe for madness but my grandmother, mom, and little sister have been very supportive and accepting of me from the very beginning and stood by me when the Chilean government decided to take issue with my (II) at the end of my name.  There is no distinction between nationalities or last names. We are a family. I have met people who I felt like I have known for ages, perhaps in a past life. People who I know I won’t lose touch with despite the continental divide between us. This endeavor has been a personal and professional blessing and through it all I have been changed.

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CESC Students: This is not an easy process but the rewards are infinite. Language learning will teach you patience, discipline, humility, resilience, and hopefully to never take yourself too seriously. If you need language advice or just some encouraging words, I am just a message away. I have been in your shoes and I know it can be a challenge but no matter where I am at, I’ve got your back!!

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As I move into the next phase of my life, I will forever carry with me the lessons and experiences from 4+ months immersed in another language and culture volunteering as an English language coach. With the academic endeavors of tomorrow on the horizon, I reflect upon the love and support I have felt both at home and abroad knowing that this is not a goodbye but rather a see you later!

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Chile, I’ll be seeing you again soon….

Experiences n’ Stuff

Colegio San Crescente

 

^^^ That’s my school. 🙂

Life for me has been the perfect storm of NOT teaching.

Week 1- Observations.

Week 2- Examinations.

Week 3- Visa Drama.

Week 4- Aniversario (Also known as “Let’s take a week off for our school’s birthday”.)

Week 5- ACTUAL TEACHING!!

Long story short, the visa process seems to have paid off. I have a new visa (sans II) and I have applied for my carnet de identidad. Should work out fine….. I hope.

After much anticipation, the time has come for me to actually teach! (Cue Music: “Eye of the Tiger” – Survivor)

Being a teacher is difficult! It is apparent to me now that being an educator is to take on many roles. You are a guide who leads young minds through the wilderness and into the promised land of learning. You are an encourager who (should) come in with a ton of energy , passion, and knowledge in relation to the subject matter in order to instill a yearning in young minds to explore and discover the subject matter actively. You are at times a disciplinarian who has to manage the class and maintain the respect and attention of the students. You are an example who shows the scholars the pertinence of the subject matter in their lives and the value of studying it. There are so many students who listen to music in English or who watch movies in English….so the challenge lies in being able to take them where they are to the next level. I encourage my kids to actively learn English….or to always have an open mind (No me gusta or Me cuesta are not excuses!) to learning new words and expressions. My approach is to come in as a relatable guide….someone who has experienced and who is still experiencing the language learning process. I know what it is like to trudge through verb conjugations, prepositions, and SUBJUNCTIVE. I strive to make my classroom an open environment where one can speak and be heard as long as they’re  giving a genuine effort. When kids come up to me and tell me that class was EPIC (Which was a slang word we learned) then that makes the day all worthwhile. I have had really successful classes and classes that have all but fallen flat. This process is a learning experience for myself as much as it is for these young scholars.

 

I don’t expect them to become bilingual in two short semesters but I think if I can animate them to apply the language to their personal lives….we might really see some growth in these kids!

Teaching Others is Reaching Others

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This week was a week of explorations and observations! You’d think that studying the language and something about the culture would prepare you for full on immersion….wrong! This week has been a challenging test of my linguistic abilities as well as my previously dormant good sense of direction. 

Adventures: I spent a whole day exploring the coastal sector of Castro. It is a scenic display of gently rolling hills that wind down to the coast. The streets are lined with small grocery stores and random curio shops. As you make your way closer to the coast you are greeted by the enticing smell of sea salt and an open air artisan market where you can buy nautical related things as well as fresh seafood. The Plazuela del Tren is a waterside area where you can observe the towns railroad past firsthand as well as random couples making out on benches. Heading closer to the big market, you pass a line of fine (smelling) seafood restaurants which serve some of the freshest fish you can get! In the market I decided to sample some local salmon ceviche which is a combination of lime marinated salmon tossed with cilantro and diced onion and served with a spicy ají sauce. The flavors are complex as the acidity of the lime cuts the fishy edge off of the raw salmon while the onion and cilantro add a more detailed and aromatic facet to the dish. The spicy ají seems to add just the right amount of savory heat to round out this intriguing seaside snack.

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On a more scholastic note, my school observations are now done! Monday I dive headfirst into immersion English education and plan on starting out full speed ahead! I have been working to really determine the level of each class from 5 año (5th grade) to 4 medio (12th grade). It seems very much like the classroom demographics back home, a couple class clowns and a few star students with everyone else somewhere in between. One of the challenges is to really discern who can speak English on a basic level and is simply wrought with nervousness at the opportunity to present themselves to a native speaker, and who simply cannot produce. For this reason, regardless of subject matter I am going to take an age appropriate spin on reviewing basic greetings and self presentations. This should work well because I can fill in some of the knowledge gaps as well as to boost the confidence of the other students who can witness firsthand their own English speaking skills. I would have given anything to have an immersion experience back in high school. I appreciate the opportunity to have the flexibility to do my own thing in the classroom guided by the notes of my two head teachers. We are going to have 5 simple rules.

1. Respect (Yourself and others)

2. No Cell Phones!

3. English Only! 😉

4. Try Your Hardest!

5. Positive Attitudes!

 

As I get ready for the first big drop on this roller coaster, I am reminded that nothing comes easy. If I am to expect my kids to give their best effort in class, then I have to give them my best effort, creativity, planning, in order to get them excited about where they are heading! One of my main leverage points to the naysayers is that “If I can learn your language and leave everything behind to come help you, you can certainly learn mine….close to home!” Let’s go!!

 

 

P.S. – I met my Chilean twin. Anyone who can bust out singing The Police or Queen music and who likes good beer and candy is probably my brother from another mother.

 

Truth.

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5367 Miles From Home

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I came. I saw. I learned how to be a teacher.

How do you cram a four year education degree into a week?! Lots of powerpoint presentations and coffee. During the orientation process I learned about everything from lesson planning to classroom management. I experienced firsthand the rigors of teaching my native language to students who’s English comes from songs by LMFAO, Snoop Dogg, and Justin Bieber. I began to sense just what it takes to be a teacher and the many roles you play. I am an educator, mentor, confidant, inspirer, coach, entertainer, and a role model. I am not “classically trained” but I draw heavily from my experiences as a Spanish student. I want my kids to know that I understand their fears and frustrations, as well as their triumphs. I want them to want to learn and to know that being multilingual can give them the tools they need to experience the world and wide array of human experiences in a much deeper manner.

I met so many wonderful people from all over the world. I learned so much about British culture and how we Americans are always so excitable and energetic. “It must be so tiring to be an American”. I bonded with my roommates “403 for life!!” I rode on a subway for the first time, enjoyed Karaoke, sang childhood Disney songs (Patrick, your voice is a chorus of british angels.), played ultimate frisbee, had Churrascos, and enjoyed some Argentine Spanish che. To my fellow volunteers, you are all really unique and wonderful individuals who are going to do wonderful things in your schools and communities. I look forward to seeing pictures and reading your blog entries. ❤

I am home. Castro is the capital of the Chiloé province and is nestled on the estero de Castro. This charming seaside community has a welcoming charm and unique flavor comprable to Charleston, South Carolina. This weekend I plan on exploring and taking a ton of photos. I live with Daisy Carrasco who is an energetic mother and a selfless provider. She is a welcoming individual who I find to be very easy to talk to, laugh with, and to enjoy mate with. Also in the house is her 93 year old mother, Olga. She is quite possibly the worlds most precious elderly woman and has already decided to adopt me permanently. My little sister is Belén. She is also one of my students and shows much promise with the English language. I think it will be great to plan lessons using her advice in order to maximise the response and excitement from many of her friends. Also, I live with Gringo the kitten who like me is white and cute. 😉

Needless to say I am blessed beyond measure. Three women and a kitten sounds like a Lifetime series but is now my life. I am really excited to make connections and to become part of the greater Castro community.

Observations begin tomorrow (Cue Eye of the Tiger Music…)

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