Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Clases are over!

I apologize for not getting on here in a while-- there’s a lot to catch you up on.

My teacher, Maria, and I at a museum.
The first two weeks in Antigua were spent learning Spanish one on one with our professors. Our group was split into two-- one for advanced students and the other for beginner/intermediates. Many of the students in the advanced group have had Spanish experience before.

Our first week of class was spent reviewing rules, practicing grammar, and practicing our conversational skills. I have studied Spanish for many years, both in high school and in college. This is by far the best way that I have found to learn Spanish. I enjoyed having a personal tutor that takes the time to go over my individual mistakes and questions. I have learned so much in these last two weeks because of the way that the program is set up. A typical day for us began around 7:45 with breakfast made by Coni, our “host mother.” Classes began around 8:00 with one on one lessons until 10:00. Our tutors come to us. We then had a short break for “refacciones” or snacks and coffee. The last hour and a half was often dependent upon the activities of the day. Some days were a continuation of morning practice, while others were spent learning how to teach people about diseases.

Part of our Spanish education was spent teaching us how to inform the general public about diseases that threaten their health. Over the last two weeks we learned about Pneumonia, Diarrhea, Vaccinations, Dengue, Hepatitis, Strokes, Heart Attacks and Influenza. Most of the time was spent trying to interpret what we had already learned in the first year of medical school. Usually we would review packets with our instructors and then present individual topics to our peers and their professors. After many mistakes and mispronounced words we were able to fully communicate the meaning, causes, symptoms, risk factors, and treatments of each ailment. In between giving presentations about different diseases, we learned how to collect a patient history and collect vitals in Spanish. This was one of the most entertaining things to learn because we acted out the scenes in front of our professors. Each of our instructors acted like a patient and we had to figure out their chief complaint and collect vital signs.

By the end of two weeks I feel extremely confidant talking to someone about the state of their health, sicknesses that they have, and explaining to them symptoms of major diseases or health related problems. Much of this is due to the constant practice that all of us underwent. At lunch and dinner we would talk about new Spanish phrases that we’ve learned or mistakes that we made. Everyone seemed to get a good laugh at one of my mistakes. I tried to tell Magda, my professor, that my family eats turkey (pavo) every Thanksgiving (dia de gracias). Instead I told her, “Mi familia come polvo de cada día de los almas. Translation: My family eats dust every All Souls day. By the end of my lessons my teacher asked if I was writing my own Spanish dictionary. That’s when you know your Spanish is improving! The Spanish lessons that we took here were very rewarding. Many of us developed great relationships with our professors. They seemed to take us under their wings as the classes progressed. My professor noticed the mistakes that I continuously made and worked on how to get around them. I’ve never had that kind of instruction and I will surely miss it. Classes seemed to stop suddenly last week. After many long conversations, presentations, and homework assignments we were once again finished with classes.

Kylie conducts a patient interview.
Everyone gathers to practice singing La Bamba.

Chris interviews Maria who is concerned with vaccinating her baby.


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