This course is especially designed for people who live in Ajijic year-round or “snowbirds” that spend the winter months here. It is comprised of three parts:
The first 12 to 14 lessons concentrate on acquiring the language through vocabulary which is learned through watching a movie, El Mariachi by Robert Rodriguez (over 1000 commonly used words); constructing meaning, learning the correct pronunciation and developing the skills needed to understand spoken Spanish at a normal speed. The words are learned on a subconscious level in a meaningful context, and closely match the way children learn language, taking advantage of the brain’s “pre-wiring” for language (Chomsky).
Activation of language:
Using the words learned in the first part of the course the student begins to speak Spanish under controlled, low-anxiety conditions. The student’s spoken language is recorded, corrected for pronunciation, grammar and more and more words are added as they are needed. Newspaper articles, poetry, short stories, travelogues, etc., are read and listened to for more vocabulary, comprehension and expression. Students begin to be apprenticed to local schoolteachers, carpenters, and shopkeepers to use their Spanish in a natural setting. At this point grammar is introduced on a more formal level, leading into the third part of the course:
Now that the student is actively communicating in Spanish, (albeit still with plenty of mistakes and holes to be filled with new vocabulary), he or she starts to see and hear patterns that are repetitive in the new language. Students begin to learn the correct tenses, masculine and feminine articles, and pronouns, and they acquire an “ear” for the correct placement of prepositions and other grammatical rules. They continue to record their conversations, but also to write about what they have read and done. This work is corrected and the rules are explained, always in context. Their language grows exponentially as they are able to communicate better with native speakers in meaningful ways.
An integral part of the course is access to native speakers who are trained to listen, speak slowly, and encourage the beginner to talk and who are also able adapt their speech to students at different levels of fluency.
Note: Regardless of their level of Spanish, students can step in and the course is adapted to their individual needs.