This week, I’ve been writing about my decision to return to school to become a teacher of English as a Foreign Language and how that has led me to spend the next eight weeks teaching in El Salvador.
Sr. Diaz was great and helped me to learn so much, but I wanted to supplement class with a coach who could help me reach a level of being conversational in Spanish. Through a website called italki.com, I met La Seniorita Ariela. She is a student in the Dominican Republic, who teaches both English and Spanish when she is not in class or doing her homework. We scheduled lessons twice a week for an hour each to develop my listening and speaking abilities.
It was scary at first to put myself out there 1:1 with a tutor, but it was so worth it and quickly became comfortable. She and I would find topics to explore: clothing, physical descriptions, small talk, health, directions, food and others. We would work on basic vocabulary and how to speak about a topic. With a private teacher, we could customize the lessons. When we covered directions, we printed off a map of the area where I will live and work in El Salvador and use this as a template for giving directions. This also gave me a working knowledge of the layout of the city.
My favorite part of our classes was when she would ask what I have been doing. It was a chance to converse. If I wanted to tell her a story or about something we did, though, I had to figure out how to do it in Spanish. At first, I’d have a page of notes and then at some point, I said “There will be no notes in El Salvador, so no notes here”. I might look up a few words I needed to communicate, but would learn them before we met. It really made me stretch my skills. And over time, I could understand better what she told me about her life or when she asked me questions.
This is the two of us during one of our sessions. I am very grateful to have met her and worked with her for the past few months. I’ll miss our lessons and hope that we can keep in touch.
FYI: The title of the post comes from an often repeated phrase in our lessons.