01.09.2012 - 29.09.2012
Volunteering in a foreign country can be quite daunting because of the language barrier. The majority of Casa HOY volunteers, regardless of their Spanish fluency, become adept charades players with hilarious signature moves. My favorite so far has been an Australian volunteer’s gestures for “my clothes are dirty and need washing.” To be honest, communicating at your volunteer project with staff and benefactors can be downright maddening without basic Spanish. While you can still have a very meaningful volunteer experience with no Spanish, having some basic language skills is always, obviously, helpful. To fit this demand, we at Casa HOY have designed a Spanish crash course that fits your budget and schedule, and more importantly, your immediate need to interact and communicate at your volunteer placement.
The Casa HOY Spanish Crash Course, unlike classes at traditional language schools, is designed with the volunteer’s first week experiences, needs and wants in mind. We know what situations you will encounter your first few weeks of volunteering and what vocabulary is most pertinent. The Spanish Crash Course is designed for the first week of volunteer work, with a second week of class also possible. The method we use is known as the call-and-response method. The call-and-response method is historically common in African American culture, which focuses on orally based teaching. For example, in African American churches it is common for the minister make a statement or ask a question that solicits a group response from the congregation. With the call-and-response method, the student doesn’t need to understand what she/he is saying; all they have to do is respond. For example: Teacher: “tomo,” points to student “tomas.” Teacher points to self, “tomo,” asks student, “tomas?” Student responds, “tomo.”
Focusing on verbs, this crash course will teach you everything from commands (don’t jump on me!) to introductions (sup, little dude?) to getting toilet paper for the toilet-seat-less toilet at your volunteer placement. Everything is taught in Spanish, although the teachers understand English and will answer any questions you have. A Spanish only environment tunes your ear and mouth to the new sounds being taught. The teacher repeats vocabulary and corrects your pronunciation until the words become familiar. By listening and automatically responding to what a teacher asks you, you will then be able to interact with people in Spanish almost reflexively. At the end of the week, you will have a confidence with the Spanish language that beginners rarely have after just a few hours of class.
The crash course starts on Tuesday, your first day of volunteer work, and can be offered before lunch or after lunch, depending on your volunteer schedule. You have one hour a day, for a total of four hours the first week. If you decide to continue with classes the second week, you will then have five hours. The class is taught at the volunteer house. ¿Estás lista? ¡Estoy lista!
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