Saturday, 29 January 2011

Latin Learners

 Like a Latin Lover but just a bit more studious...

One thing that I love about language is it so often acts as an ambassador for the culture it comes from. French is wordy, flowery and quite elitist. English is complicated and irregular, and sometimes cold and without much feeling. Language reflects the traits and characteristics of those to whom it belongs- those that speak it.

Spanish is a passionate language. In a loving, romantic way but also in a raw blood-and-guts spilled all over the table sort of way. "Muero por tí" (I die for you) carries the same if not more weight "I am wasting away for want of you". Three words suffice in Spanish where such a number would seem to flounder in English. Spanish does not use unnecessary pronouns or superfluous constructions. It does not demand rigidity in syntax or word order. It has numerous ways of expressing possibility and hope. It has 3 verbs to express "love" and many more to express "like" or "appreciation". In short, it is a beautiful language.

And Latin students are a pleasure to teach. They love to talk, even with the most limited vocabulary at their disposal. They are not afraid to express appreciation and even affection towards each other and their teachers, in the sense that they are ready to take part in any sort of activity whole-heartedly and uninhibitedly. They trust their teachers and very quickly learn to trust each other, which makes for a very pleasant classroom atmosphere. They help one another and are selfless enough to be able to laugh at themselves and each other, which, at least in my classes, is an essential skill.

They have opinions about everything. In contrast with may parts of Europe, particularly the UK, political and social apathy is almost nonexistent.  One only has to write the name of the president or any token social issue (I.e. Pollution, Economy, Education) on the board and they are off vehemently expressing their opinions and sharing their experiences in varying levels of (often broken but oddly poetic) English.

In my short time here so far I've had the pleasure of seeing students who (allegedly) never spoke a word of English in class, open up and invent the most intricate and detailed stories, painting pictures of complex and (sometimes) haunting characters- prompted only by a cut-out photo from the latest edition of the National Geographic.  I have seen a room full of Macho (Macho Macho) professionals, mostly accountants and lawyers, throw caution to the wind in the name of writing up short (and ridiculous) dialogues and sketches and acting them out in front of their equally macho classmates to all of our diversion. I find myself leaving work each day feeling inspired by and so grateful to my students for their enthusiasm and contribution to the class, and most importantly, looking forward to seeing them again the next day, and the next day, and the next. Así es.

1 comment:

  1. Al conocer que va a enseñar, mediante la enseñanza de que van a aprender. Proverbio latino