“Felicidades Carla, tu has completado Avanzado 5!” Those words felt like a weight off my shoulders when I heard them said, due to the fact that completing this level of Spanish had proved to be the most challenging yet rewarding experiences of my student life. Spanish Immersion was recommended to me from the beginning of my time as an English teacher at Estelar, and admittedly it was something I avoided, fearing it was too much to take on, but after completing three intense weeks I can say without hesitation, it was one of my favourite experiences at Estelar. Why, you may ask?
One of my shortcomings when it comes to learning Spanish is trying to figure out what words to learn. In Spanish Immersion, relevant and contextual vocabulary is presented in creative and dynamic ways which allowed for me incorporate new vocabulary into my everyday speech. Learning vocabulary through games, word searches and conversation has greatly improved my fluency.
A little piece of Costa Rica
One of my favourite aspects of the course was learning about Costa Rican culture, jargon and food. The course enabled me to not only learn Spanish grammar but common Costa Rican phrases that I would commonly hear in my everyday interactions with Ticos.
Another facet I enjoyed was learning about Costa Rican stories, mythologies and folklores. Coming from an island in which sharing and exchanging stories is part of my culture I fully appreciated hearing stories such as ‘La Carreta’ as it was fun comparing such tales which those of my own.
The food. Where to begin? One of the best things about living in Costa Rica so far, besides the gorgeous beaches of course, is the food. One of my favourite dishes here is ‘patacones’ and it was one of the dishes I always wanted to prepare. As part of the immersion course I was lucky enough to be taught how to prepare it and have been preparing it as often as I can since learning how to.
An appreciation for my Students’ experience
One major benefit of learning a language is that you gain an appreciation for your students’ own learning hurdles. Learning another language is not easy, and it was never solidified as much as it was during my three intense weeks of Spanish. Although difficult it offered me an alternative view to the learning experience; a dynamic, student involved classrooms surely aids in acquiring a language much like any other skill and my teaching ethics were certainly sharpened thanks to Spanish Immersion.
All in all, I can sum up my Spanish immersion experience as its name suggests: Intense. As a Spanish learner, I appreciated the opportunity to improve and get my certification at the school’s highest level, a personal achievement that I was more than relieved to attain.
Carla is an English teacher at Instituto Estelar Bilingüe. She is originally from Trinidad and Tobago.