For awhile now I've wanted to write about each of my classes, what we learn in them, and who teaches them. Since I've switched groups I'll also tell a little bit about the teachers I had last semester that I don't have anymore. And yes, probably every explanation of a class will be followed with "and the teacher is so nice!" because all of the staff here at ESDES are some of the warmest, kindest, people I've ever met.

There are four classes that you have to take when you come to Spain, and the rest are electives. This required classes are Grammar, Composition, Conversation, and DELE. Then you can choose electives such as Art History, History of Spain, Folklore, Spain and Culture, etc. Last semester in addition to the four required classes I took Folklore and Bible. This semester I'm taking History of Spain and Literature. 

Each group has almost all the same teachers, but when we switched groups we did gain two different teachers. Last semester I took Grammar from Maria Jose, a teacher at the secondary school who was the sponsor of Group D. She was always so kind and patient with us when we didn't understand topics, and she always made it fun in some way, with singing songs or playing games. Now I'm in Grammar with Pepe, who teaches E and F. Pepe is so funny and works really hard to help us to understand everything that's happening. I've noticed that one of his favorite things to say is, "Espera, tranquillos," (just wait, and calm down) when we are not sure if we understand a new concept. He takes everything one step at a time and tries hard to make sure everyone is caught up. He is taking English classes and tries out words on us once in a while, and we help him when he asks how we would say a phrase or word in English. I can tell that Pepe really cares about us and wants us to do well. 

For Composition, all the groups have the same teacher, Chelo. Composition class is held three days a week and it's one of my favorites. On the last day of class each week, we write a 150-word composition about any topic that Chelo gives us. Some are harder than others, but they are always fun and challenge me in vocabulary and writing structure. The other days we learn about how to write various other texts, articles, letters, arguments, and opinion pieces. When I first got to Spain and didn't understand hardly any Spanish, Chelo was the easiest teacher for me to understand. She'll do anything to help get her point across, and almost everything she says is accompanied by gestures and comments on the side. Chelo actually reminds me a bit of my mom, sort of like a tiny little hummingbird that's always cheerful and busy and makes you excited to learn.

Last semester I had Conversation class from Christian, who teaches groups A-D. Conversation is a harder class for me because there are so many phrases that we learn from hearing and speaking, but sometimes it's hard to figure out what would be an equivalent in English. We also go by topic, so each week we would learn about a different theme to increase our vocabulary: items in the house, food and containers, having a party, or going to the doctor. Christian always had fun activities to do in class to get us talking with each other and using our new words. One project he is doing this semester is movie-making with his classes. Since I'm not in his class anymore, I didn't have to do this project but a lot of my friends did and their movies turned out so funny! Here's the video my friends Jon, Eloise, Sara, and Rena made. It's a Spanish spoof on The Bachelor and it won first place:
I hope it's not too hard to understand despite being in Spanish. On Monday afternoon everyone went down La Frontera (aka student center) and we had a movie viewing of all the videos made in class. It was really fun and lots of the videos were very well done!

Anyway, this semester I have Ana for Conversation. Last semester she taught my Folklore class which I enjoyed, and now I'm really liking Conversation with her. We still go by topic but use lots of other resources besides the workbook which I enjoy. Ana has us read articles and then we talk about the vocabulary and our opinions. Our first topic of the semester? Rebajas (SALES!) which is sort of like Black Friday here in Spain. After Three Kings Day (January 5), the holiday season is pretty much over in Spain and so everything goes on sale. These sales last through January and into February at some stores. We also discuss more sober topics such as Euthanasia, and then useful things, such as any words you would hear while registering for classes at a University here in Spain. 

The other required class is DELE, which only meets once a week. In this class we just practice taking tests similar to the test we will have to take at the end of the year, and Ana helps us with the best approaches to different exams (listening, writing, grammar, reading comprehension, etc.). I must admit that I dislike DELE class greatly, since the practice tests are very hard, but no one really loves it, and I know it's just something we have to do.

For my extra classes I have History of Spain and Literature. Lidia teaches my Literature class and I love it! Right now we are reading Don Juan which is a strange play about a man named Don Juan and his endeavors to beat his friend at a rather strange bet. We also read poetry by Béquer and will continue with other works when we're done with Don Juan. This class is pretty big since it's groups A-F, but is entirely girls except for Justin and Ryan. Needless to say, in nearly all-male play, Justin and Ryan get to read aloud at least once a class period. I hadn't had a class from Lidia until this semester and I'm glad that I took this class! She's so nice and makes sure that everyone understands what is happening, and, like Chelo, doesn't hesitate to act out or explain further any words we aren't understanding.

Well, I hope this has given a little more insight into what it's like to be a student in Spain! Every day is different and I have learned not to be surprised by anything. For example, today we are going to Oceanográfico, the largest aquarium in Europe, a mere 30 minutes away in Valencia. However, we didn't know until lunch when we were leaving or how we were getting our dinner. Even though it may seem unorganized, I've realized that everything here gets done and nothing is forgotten, even though it's not the first way I'd pick to do it. All the teachers, faculty, and deans do everything they can to look our for us and help us beyond their job descriptions. Every day when the teachers pray at the beginning of class, they pray for us and each of our families back home, something that means a lot to me and shows that they really care about each of us.
1/29/2013 09:57:25 pm

Ha! I watched the first two people in that video and understood pretty much everything. Yeah Spanish II class! Lol.

Sheri Seibold
1/30/2013 02:11:31 pm

I liked hearing all the descriptions about your classes and teachers. They all sound so helpful and kind.

I also liked seeing the video, but unlike Jake, I could only understand what Jon was saying right at the beginning and then I got all caught up in the superior acting skills of all of them. I am pretty impressed with what they sounded like in the video.

I was just saying to Logan today that I can't wait to hear you speak in Spanish when you get home. Unless you and Justin want to send us a video sometime soon, maybe a tour of your campus (in Spanish).

Love and miss you lots, but glad you have such nice teachers watching over you.


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