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Learning Spanish

Our third week of the summer holiday was all about learning Spanish.

The kids went daycamp in Castelldefels, Tibor had a 20 hour course in Barcelona and Maaike 10 hours of private class also in Barcelona.

The day camp for the kids

It all sounded very well: classes from 9.00 to 12.30 and lot's of fun activities the rest of the day. We figured, if they wouldn't really learn anything, at least the would hear Spanish all day. After the first day we picked the kids up at 20.00, they were very tired and complaining. They didn't feel very well (we all, except Tibor, developed a stomach flu that day), which didn't help, but also they said that everything was in English. The girl that was their mentor during the afternoon, was surprised  when Maaike said that the kids didn't speak English. The next day they didn't go the class because of the stomach flu, but on Wednesday they went again. We agreed that Maaike would talk to the teacher, to tell her the kids don't speak English.

So Maaike asked if she could speak to the teacher, but Maaike wasn't allowed to go inside. So she asked if one of the mentors could walk with them to tell the teacher they only speak Dutch. They said, wait here someone will come for you. That turned out to be a phone call from the coordinator of the teachers. She had something to tell me: they didn't appreciate at all that Maaike doubted that the teacher didn't know what languages the kids could speak. They had 15 years of experience also with kids that don't speak English. Maaike was flabbergasted. One would think, they would also have experience with worried dutch mothers who want to know what's happening.

All Maaike could do was let it go and of course we only new what the kids told me and that was for example that the teacher asked on the first day: "where are you actually from" and also the kids learned the conjugation of 'ser', but they had no idea what 'ser' actually meant.

In the end they finished the week and it was ok for them. But we don't know if they learned more Spanish or more English. Next time we will go for private classes or just do some course and they will learn Spanish there.

Tibor's class

Tibor had to get up early and go by train to Barcelona, something he really liked as it was like he was part of the working people of Spain. After the train ride it was a short walk. The first day Tibor came in all was really unclear. As we know now Spanish people are, at least to us, vague in what needs to be done. In Holland we are used to clear schedules and rules about what to do. So he had to take a test but it was unclear what to do when finished. After some walking around a teacher took the test and he had to wait some more. Unclear what would happen he sat down with some other students.

While the classes should start at 9:00 nothing happened and the students look at each other in doubt. Around 9:30 someone started calling names. Tibor joined the beginners class and was directed into a room where a teacher came in. 

The teacher was a nice guy speaking Spanish almost full time which was ok for me although Tibor could not understand what was really happening. He did some simple exercises. After some time the teacher left the room. We, the students, did not really know what was happening so we figured it was a break. 

After the break a different teacher was there and he started the class. He spoke more English and was more strict in the tasks. Tibor had hoped on a lot if talking and role playing games or acting and doing things but the classes where, to for him, old fashioned. 

We started with counting, the alphabet and a couple of grammar rules. Tibor is totally not interested in rules and grammar, he just want to learn some sentences and words. Kids also learn languages via doing and acting not by grammar. 

The next day was the same although we started more at 9:00 than the first day. The fist teacher, being more informal was better for me. We talked more and all was in Spanish. The second one did more and more rules like al the forms of some verbs and first he was writing them on the board which was boring to look at and then we had to copy them as he thought we would learn them that way. The only thing Tibor learned was that he gets cramp in his arms from writing with a pen and paper.

Maaike's class

I took private classes because, otherwise I wouldn't be able to bring the kids to daycamp. In the end I think these were the best classes, because I could decide myself what I wanted to learn. I practiced a lot with 'por' and 'para' and learned all the past tenses of the subjuntivo.

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