Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Spanish Immersion program in La Manzanilla

On Monday, I started a new Spanish immersion course in La Manzanilla, a small fishing village one hour north of Manzanillo. It is a very intensive program where I take Spanish classes for 3 hours per day 5 days a week. In addition, I do a homestay with a Mexican family that do not speak any English. I will take this program for the next month to try and improve my Spanish.

I arrived in La Manzanilla Monday morning with the two dogs in tow. The director of the school met me once I arrived and brought me to meet my family and get me set up, show me around town, etc. The family I am staying with are a young family (early 30’s) with 3 children and a Chihuahua. The children are very sweet and the middle child Ketzali (age 9), has taken a keen interest in teaching me various nouns and phrases when I am not in class. The family is wonderful and has accepted me and the dogs with open arms. Today, I had classes for 6 hours instead of the usual 3, so the father Hugo took my dogs to the soccer field to play fetch with them. I have my own room (Ketzali has generously given up her room and is sleeping in her brother Hugo’s room) . Part of my homestay is to have meals with the family and we all sit down together where I have ample opportunty to practice my Spanish. All of the family members are very encouraging and are helping me gain much needed confidence in my speaking abilities, comprehension and pronunciation.

My first day in La Manzanilla was challenging and a little overwhelming at times, but I have learned so much in a short time. One of my two Mexican teachers, named Miguel,is a wonderful teacher. Tomorrow, I will meet the other teacher Valentin. They paired me up with one other woman from the US who is close to the same level as me, so there are only two of us in the class. The class instruction is entirely in Spanish where we listen to the teacher (and each other) and work on comprehension, talk and work on our pronunciation, listen to Spanish songs and translate, watch Spanish movies and work on more comprehension, etc. In addition, we have homework each day, where we must keep a daily journal entirely in Spanish. The following day, we read our journal entry aloud in class. I very much like the intensity of the program and the full immersion will certainly help move my Spanish to the next level.

La Manzanilla is a quaint little Mexican town with a population of approximately 1,500 people . In the tourist season, they also get about 300 foreigners who come to live for the winter. Clearly, they have already started to arrive, as I have noticed many Canadian and American license plates on my walk to school this afternoon.

The beach here is beautiful and I plan on bringing the dogs there each morning for a long walk before I start the day and begin my studying and homework. My Mexican family has warned me to stay away from the lagoon as there is a large crocodile sanctuary where apparently the crocodiles favorite food is dogs!

The dogs have settled in nicely and have made many new friends. In addition to the Chihuahua Gina, there are several other dogs that hang out in the house I am staying. Chato, a very large boxer, pretty much lives here along with one of his puppies named Rocky. The house has a large yard that is not fenced but when I arrived, I let the dogs off the leash to explore and meet the other dogs and I have not put them back on a leash except when I leave the house to take them for a walk. They absolutely love the freedom of a yard and have made many new friends.

There are several places here that have a wireless connection so I will be able to keep up on my blogging and checking e-mails. I will also post some pictures of the family and town very soon. Well, I must get back to my journal en espanol!


American Mommy in Mexico said...

What an incredible opportunity! I look forward o hearing how it all goes

Steve Cotton said...

Good luck in the immersion program. I may need to do something similar merely to get me moving on my Spanish. The beach at La Manzanilla is its best attraction. But watch the lagoon. You have probably already encountered the crocs. They have a tendency to wander a bit. And, it is true that they love dog. Most dogs are very easy targets.

Anonymous said...

that sounds like a great program. i'm so happy for you. sorry for not answering your e-mail yet, i will do so soon.


Beth said...

Sounds like a great experience! Have fun and enjoy - but tenga ciudado with those crocs!

New Beginnings said...

Thanks everyone. Staying with the family has been an amazing experience and opportunity. In only 3 days my speaking and comprehension has improved more than in the last few months in Manzanillo!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you are having a great time! Missing Mexico ,it's snowing here! My clients are enjoying the tales of my Mexico aventure!
Miss you! Wendy

Lanie said...

Oh dear another rocky... Rocky.. I love you rocky.. HA ha ha!! you SO know what I mean!!
Glad to hear you are having a great time with your new way of learning. Sounds really great.
We are busy this weekend with a huge race day tomorrow and I have another fair on sunday so hopefully get some more moolah and more party bookings. Still working on geting you here as my personal chef and accountant! HA ha ha!.. One can dream cant one?? Ha ha ha!
Miss you babes!

New Beginnings said...

Wendy - I miss you too! Are you adjusting to the cold weather yet?

Lanes - This Rocky is much different than the other one we knew! As for being your personal chef and accountant - show me the money baby and I will be there in a heartbeat!!!!!

bmct said...

Good Luck with your Spanish Immersion classes. My 18 year old son was there in July, and also stayed with the Brambila family; who treated him so well along with Julie and Victor at La Catalina.
Ben McTaggart, Vancouver.

Lanie said...

Ha ha ha.. Careful what you wish for hunny bunches!! I had a Blessing of the Fleet yesterday and got a huge response. I have two people contacting me this week for corporate ALIVE parties and a bunch of people interested in kids versions for Feb and March next year! The letter could come soon with a business proposal! How cool woudl that be? Ha ha ha!

New Beginnings said...

bmct - Thanks so much! What a small world that your son stayed with the same family. They have been so wonderful. It is a great match, especially with the dogs.

Lanie - lol! Good for you! Keep me posted on everything. This job could not be more perfect for you! Love the new website too!

VisitLaManzanilla said...

Welcome to La Manzanilla! My family and I live just on across the street from Miguel and Chuy and had classes with both of them a couple of years ago. Good luck with the classes!

New Beginnings said...

Visit La Manzanilla - thanks so much for the welcome. Yes, Miguel is an excellent teacher!

New Beginnings said...

Visit La Manzanilla - thanks so much for the welcome. Yes, Miguel is an excellent teacher!