Wednesday, March 21, 2012

one of the best parts of my week

I find teaching people a language fascinating. Everyone is different and there is so much vulnerability in speaking a different language. It is necessary to make a fool of yourself to learn--there really is no other way (something I am often and painfully aware of as I go about my day in Spanish). I love how students just translate in the beginning; all their grammatical structures are in Spanish. I tell them, think it out in English, even if it seems too simple--you will learn faster. And then when they do, when they understand what it means to think in English, it's like the training wheels coming off a bike. It's amazing.

I volunteer teach a course at a foundation that has a training program for women (the CAPTA program at Calicanto). I love this job. The women I get to teach are in the process of reinventing themselves. For the first time in their lives they are doing something that is just for them and they are seeing the possibility of a better life for themselves and for their children. It's inspiring.  For some of them, the idea of speaking English seems impossible, but they try. In fact, they work hard (some of these women really struggle). They are in the process of believing in themselves (maybe for the first time in their lives) and they have brand new confidence and it is so fresh and optimistic; I think it works better than old confidence.

I was thinking today, how obviously, there's not enough time to teach them an entire language (the course is only seven weeks). But that they really do learn a lot, and it's because they are in this moment of reinvention. They really give themselves the opportunity to try. They are vulnerable in so many ways and I think this makes them better students. They also help each other. In no other regular class that I teach, is cooperative learning as effective as it is with these women. They work together and support each other. They aren't afraid to try, and they work well together. Can you imagine a more ideal group of students?
giving some pronunciation help (well, at least I hope that's what I'm doing) 


  1. Good for you for volunteering to teach for this program. I think that is great!

    I like the line, "They are in the process of believing in themselves..." because it is a process to gain confidence and believe that you have the capacity to grow. Thanks for being part of the process for the women.


    1. Thanks for the comment Sally. It really is gratifying and inspiring to work with them.