Jacky went back to literature for more language learning techniques. After Mario Vargas Llosa, she introduced us Paulo Coehlo, the best-selling Brazilian writer. Lending us her personal copy of his book, she said, “He writes more simply,” she told us. We tried. Still too difficult. Last night I went out and bought two copies of Coehlo’s Once Minutos (Eleven Minutes), one in Spanish, the other in English. I plan to try the Oliver Twist trick – read the book in English to get the storyline, meet the characters, understand the setting, get a sense of his writing style, then read it in Spanish to concentrate on learning foreign language.
In the spirit of Walkabout Language Learning™, Jacky also tied our weekend travels to the class. We concentrated on stories such as our trip to Machu Picchu (click here for Chela’s story in Waiting for a Jewelry Buyer), our experiences with the child-vendors at Ollantaytambo (click here for High Finance in Changing Money). As a variation on the Prepare Practice Communicate steps of the Daily Learning Cycle, we prepared oral stories about our weekend adventures, delivered them during class, then refined our communication by translating them as short essays into Spanish. Jacky urged us to write them first in English, then translate them.
The English-first language learning techniques, she emphasized, would allow us to expand our foreign language learning efforts. Translation would usher us into more complex sentence structures and expand our vocabularies. She was right. It does both – but you need to work with your mentor on these to correct errors and refine usage. The weekend stories also brought home how to talk about events in the past, using Preterito Indefinido and Imperfecto correctly, without ever mentioning the terms. Who knew that Preterito Indefinido and Imperfecto would fit so comfortably into Walkabout Language Learning™?
Yesterday, we began talking about what we plan to do next weekend, then the following weekend after we leave Cusco, and the weeks after we return to the U.S. She didn’t say a word about learning the future tense – we’re learning it, as we envisioned, by example, not by memorizing linguistic rules.
And, through this process, together we’ve begun sprinkling the class with impromptu language learning activities, like three-minute drills to drive home proper patterns and verb forms to replace those we use incorrectly. She’s good at it. We like it. We’re all learning something. In short, classes now are going splendidly.
–Posted by Terry, October 24
October 30 update: Today was our next-to-last class and Jacky gave us a written review, which we worked on individually, then discussed orally. It captured expertly everything we worked on this past month. It emphasized practical examples. None of it was designed to catch us with narrowly-focused rules. It brought all our language learning techniques and class work together in a single package. She didn’t mark up our answers, leave them bleeding, and post a score.
When we finished, she went over it with us, and used it to guide our final practice and lay out direction for further study. This review was a perfect example of the fifth step of the Daily Learning Cycle: Evaluate. It was a macro-evaluation of all we worked on for the past four weeks.
She’s amazing, Jacky is. It took a huge amount of work to write a review like this, none of it canned. She pulled examples from every lesson we’ve had, and presented it in a way that will guide us in the future. What a tribute to Maximo Nivel: they have some really fine teachers here. They go the extra mile. Thank you, Jacky. Thank you, Mario Vargas Llosa – some day we will read and understand your work.
Whether you want to read Mario Vargas Llosa in Spanish or just buy fruit from a local vendor, you can create a language learning program tailored to your specific needs. If you want a step by step guide that shows you how, download the Walkabout Language Learning Action Guide.
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On the Way to Cusco
Enjoying the Sights