Saved By The Bell, Vale?

“BUENOS DIA CHICOS Y CHICAS!” my teacher hollers as she enters the rooms. Another day, another class and yet I don’t mind sitting through 4 hours of Spanish. My teachers make class exciting and informative. I’ve always had trouble with grammar in Spanish so I thought this class was going to be hell. To my surprise, I finally learned when to use certain tenses and aced my exams. Everything finally clicked and I owe it all to my teachers. They really took the time to teach us in ways we’d never learned before. Through exercises such as Powerpoints about our childhood to throwing a ball to a random classmate and giving them a verb to conjugate. I really felt like I was understanding the material rather than memorizing a book of gibberish.

Our first week was filled with introduction games and a review of the language we should have a good grip on. We dove right into learning new grammar; present, past preterite, past perfect, and past imperfect. At first, I found myself in the same spot I had been in during high school. I began to freak out (in my head, of course) overthinking every word. But my teachers didn’t rush through the lessons. They took the time to answer all of my dumb questions and explained the language to me in a way that I could understand. Learning another language is difficult, no doubt, but when you have teachers who really want you to succeed with the language, you end up putting yourself into the native speaker’s shoes and thinking about the language as they would.

I found that teachers here are more open with their students. They don’t hide their personal lives and want students to be open and connected with each other. Many of our assignments required us to talk about our childhood using the grammar we were taught in class. It was a great way to really get to know each other. Especially because most of the class did not know one another in the beginning, this was a great method to make the classroom a comfortable environment for learning. We all asked stupid questions but didn’t feel like we were being judged because we all understood that we were trying to comprehend every aspect of the language.

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Museo del Prado

There weren’t field trips associated with class, per say. The field trips provided by the school were to the museums and different cities outside Madrid. Some activities had fees but others were free of charge. Visits like the Palacio Real and the Reina Sofia Museum were led by entertaining tour guides who spoke to us according to what level of Spanish we were taking. S not only were we learning about the culture and history of Spain, but we also got to understand the material in another language. As for “in-class field trips”, we were encouraged to go out and talk to native speakers and try to have a conversation with them.  A few of our in class assignments required us to wander around the streets of Madrid and ask shop owners what their hours were or ask for directions. It didn’t always work but we tried our hardest to use what we learned in the classroom.

I do wish the school provided more culture classes for students in lower level classes. The fluent Spanish speakers got a history and culture class but the lower levels just had grammar lessons from 1:10pm to 5:30pm. I did learn the language but I assumed that I would learn more about the customs and history of Madrid and Spain. This program in general had a very independent aspect where in class you would study then were expected to explore Spain on your own. Some of the other schools that were studying at the University had trips planned by their school, which I would have enjoyed. I felt like I didn’t know which parts of Madrid were most important to see and when I did go to a historical monument I had look up its significance. Though it is nice to be independent, it would have been nice to have someone there to guide me through the city. I think there could have been more activities given to us to explore Madrid but I’m pretty content with how the program was run.

Learning Spanish in Spain was different, to say the least. The teachers really push for a community style learning environment and encourage questioning and conversation. I enjoyed learning at Nebrija because I really started to comprehend the pieces I previously had trouble with. It’s always a transition to learn in another country because you have to get used to their style of teaching but I do prefer to learn language using the methods used here.

Until next time, Que te vaya bien!