Friday, June 08, 2012


We just finished two weeks of one on one Spanish lessons. I took Spanish in high school, but haven’t spoken it since then, and to make matters worse, I took two years of Italian in college, so needless to say, my Spanish was not too great. I found that when I finally got on a role, my Italian would come out, so class was pretty frustrating, but I had a wonderful teacher! My teacher’s name was Erika-she was fantastic and super, super patient with me and my lack of words. It is always so much easier to understand a language than speak it, but we all did our best.

The first week was spent cramming in as much grammar and vocab as possible. We covered everything from the major verbs to medical vocabulary, we even learned the Spanish song, La Bomba-the boys soloing was pretty entertaining. The second week focused more on the medical side of things. I was in the “beginner” group, so we focused on patient intake, taking vital signs, and on two very important diseases that are common here in Guatemala, Dengue and Pneumonia. During the patient interviews, the teachers would act like the patients and give us symptoms, which we would write in their “carnet” or chart, and then go through the process of taking vitals. We also practiced giving presentations on Dengue and Pneumonia in Spanish.

Working one on one with a Spanish speaker is definitely the best way to learn a language, but after each four-hour session, my head was throbbing. I am proud of the amount of information I was able to take in during such a short period of time, but I have to admit, it was also one of the most frustrating things I have ever done. I wanted to learn so much more, to understand so much more, and to speak so much more. I kept having to remind myself that it was only two weeks. But, I can now say that I can be somewhat successful with basic medical Spanish and I am excited to use it in the clinics.


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