Unless you're teaching English...
17.04.2012 - 28.04.2012
They say immersion is the best way to learn a language. And while that may be the case for many people, there are some of us that won’t learn a dang word until it’s written down, studied for hours on end, then used in a few sentences. It’s just how we operate.
So even though it may say on the IVHQ website that Spanish language skills are not necessary for this volunteer participatory trip, you be trippin’ if you think that at least conversational Spanish isn’t indispensable. Cuernavaca is not Cabo or Cancun, and while many people speak some English, the population you work with, especially with childcare or teaching English projects, probably can’t say more than “pollo is chicken.”
Learning Spanish will enrich your volunteer experience. Casa HOY is connected to the “ASLI Spanish Language Institute,” that offers affordable, private Spanish classes. While other schools in Cuernavaca charge up to $600 a week, classes at this school are less than $250. You can take classes in the morning or in the afternoon, 15 hours a week. Studying Spanish in Mexico means that you can take what you learn in the classroom and apply it during at volunteer project. Teachers at ASLI focus on grammar, conversation, reading and/or writing- whatever your need may be. They’ll even continue on with you after you’ve left Mexico. Several volunteers still take classes with their teachers on Skype.
Practicing your Spanish at your volunteer project is also very rewarding. Most Mexicans are very encouraging, and children/adolescents are the most patient of all. They appreciate you at least making the effort. I remember one volunteer that sat down with a little girl, and she took about 10 minutes to focus on his accent for the words “Harry Potter.” Roll them “r’s!”
Now, I’m not saying you can’t have a thoroughly amazing experience if you don’t speak Spanish. You will find other ways to communicate and that can be really cool, too. Some of the best connections are nonverbal. What I am saying, is that if you have the time, the money, and the motivation to learn a little, you should take advantage of the opportunity. If you don’t take classes, you should at least learn basic vocabulary, such as please and thank you, greetings, introductions and a few food words. Talk to Casa HOY about studying options and schedules.