Up until four months ago that is about all I understood in Spanish. I mean sure, I had two lack-luster years in High School but that was a long time ago. Since arriving to Mexico in November I made it one of my missions to learn the language.
So, I decided to head up to Guanjuato, Mexico for two weeks of Spanish school at Escuela Falcon. Below I break down a day in the life of an adult spanish school student in Mexico.
I entered the school with three months prior of classes in Mexico City (twice a week for two hours each time). I had to take a placement test online and send it back before starting classes. I was placed into the “Principiante” group. They break it down between Principante, Intermedio, and Avanzado.
Most students do from 3-4 classes a day. Some choose to add a private class during that time-frame. For my second week at school I went with three group classes and one private. The cost broke down to:
3 Group Classes (1-3 students): $105 dollars
1 Private Class: $80 dollars
Thus, for 4 classes a day from Mon-Fri I spent roughly $200 dollars. That comes out to an average of $10 dollars per class session. If I would have done just group classes it would have been $6.75 per class.
MY DAY OF SCHOOL- 3/15/2018
9:45 AM: I finish up my breakfast and head out of my apartment toward the Escuela Falcon Language school. It is a short five minute walk, but I pass plenty of colorful buildings and a little plaza going up hill on the way to the school.
On this day there is a lot of activity as there is a celebration for the beginning of the spring. Children from a nearby school are out and about. It’s a good feeling to make your way to class seeing others enjoying themselves in this picturesque colonial city.
At 9:55 AM I enter the school and am greeted by the friendly staff who work the front desk. I get in a quick hello to a fellow student from London in the inner courtyard and head up to my first class. Each classroom is named after a fruit in spanish, and I begin in the Sandia room.
Some Exterior Classroom Shots
10:00-10:55 AM- Gramatica I/E:
My first class of the day is Spanish Grammar with Rocia. She is a warm yet serious teacher who has 10 years of experience teaching at the school. At times it feels like Rocia is teaching a large University class as she scurries back and forth from the white-board. However, this week I am the only student in my grammar class.
I began my second week of grammar learning about reflexive verbs. In spanish you would say, “Yo me baño” which means “I take a bath”. The concept is easy enough, all though gets more confusing when you mix in indirect and direct objects.
On this Thursday we move onto going over prepositions. It was a nice review as I already had a fairly good idea on this topic, all though I didn’t know that “según” meant often or that “tras” was another word for behind.
My Grammar Classroom
My sheet with prepositions.
Afterwards, we do an activity to hammer home the concepts of the day. I am given cards with questions to answer using prepositions like:
¿Con Quien Sales Hoy (With who do you hangout with today?)
¿ Entre que situacion tú estás ( Which situations are you in the middle of? )
It is good practice to answer as I am getting into the mindset of thinking in Spanish.
11:00-11:55- Comuncation y Vocabulario sin Libro:
I head downstairs and meet my Communication teacher, Pavel. His class is a bit different. Pavel is big into spending the entire class period talking back and forth, thus I get real practice conversing in Spanish. In fact, he prefers to head down into one of the nearby plazas during his class period. On the way there we happen to pass two “burros” carrying a load for a local. This is the kind of randomness that can pop up any day in Guanajuato.
After settling in the plaza we talk about how our last day was and change to a topic that interests me a lot: Sports.
As the NCAA basketball tournament began Thursday we go into a discussion on saying some sports terminology in Spanish. I learn that, “¿Cual es el equipo favorito en Mexico” means what is your favorite team in Mexico. He tells me that the most famous soccer team in Mexico is Club América. Based in Mexico City, they are like the New England Patriots of the NFL – both loved & hated.
I also learn that a cap is a “gorra”. I lament how the New York Yankees hat is probably the most famous baseball cap in the world, and you always see people wearing it. Low and behold two minutes later someone walked by wearing one!
In between people watching and talking in spanish about sports and our jobs, fifty-five minutes flys by. It is time to head back to the school for the break period.
This the time to take a breather between classes or grab food. The school has a small cafe next to their inner courtyard. Prices are fairly reasonable ($30 pesos for a torta). My first week I ordered both the Chicken and Ham Torta. Each time I enjoyed it.
I also use this period to catch up with my classmates. The school has students from all over including: Switzerland, Canada, the U.K, California, Washington D.C, and Boston. The age of the students the weeks I was there ranged from about 25 to 65. It is a motivated group with different reasons for attending, but all who seem to take their classes seriously.
The break area.
I talk to one Canadian from British Columbia who shared three classes with me in my first week. We compare what we did that day and talk about checking out the Mummy Museum after school. We invite another student from Minneapolis to join us. I finish up a coke I bought to give me a bit of a caffeine boost and head to my third class.
12:30-1:25- Cocina Tradicional Mexicana:
One thing that is cool about Escuela Falcon is that they don’t just have classes in Spanish Language. You can choose from Salsa Dancing, Mexican Cooking, and Mexican Culture classes.
My first week I did four language classes and felt like I could use something different in my second week. So I decided to get my hands dirty in the Traditional Mexican Cooking Class.
Proof that I can flip a tortilla.
On this day I enter and look on the cooking whiteboard to see that we would be making Pozole Rojo, Chicken Enchiladas Rojas , and a Mandarin Orange Juice on the side. We have only 55 minutes so we get to work right away.
I am the designated Mandarin juice maker so I begin by peeling the Mandarins. Next I need to get them into the blender and mixed. What is fun is that I not only help make the dishes, but learn new words in spanish like: “Mezclar” (mix) and “Revolver” (Stir).
My classmates and I move onto cutting up some onions , chile ancho, and chile guajillo for the Pozole. Our teacher Isadora had the soup and chicken already heating before we came to save time. We add the final touches to the soup and await the final product.
After sitting for about 10-15 minutes the soup is ready. We work on completing the enchiladas by putting the tortillas into the salsa roja and then cooking it on the pan. I am at first hesitant to do this but eventually become a pro at getting them flipped.
I think this class has helped instill some confidence in me handling my way around the kitchen. When I return to NYC it will be enchildadas and and tortas instead of boring grilled chicken!
We all sit down after and eat the meal we made with our teacher. She goes over ways to flavor and tone down the spice of the Pazole (add avocado and lime). I have just enough time to savor the food before I head out to my final class of the day.
1:30-2:25 PM – Privada:
My last class of the day is a private class. At Escuela Falcon you have the option of taking a private class that assures you will be one-on-one with a teacher and can choose what you want to learn. I was placed with Marcos, who I had the prior week in an audio-visual listening class.
I decided that I had two goals: to work on past tense grammar and practice spanish out in the city. In the days before my teacher accompanied me to the Laundromat, Supermarket, and Liquor store and we went over ways to order things and receive services (did you know in Mexico it is written as a six-pack of beer like in English!).
Irregular Verbs in the Imperfect Tense.
However, on Thursday we didn’t make any local trips. We instead went over irregular verb endings for the past imperfect tense (lucky for me there are only three). When we are done he helps me write a short speech for my “Graduation” on Friday. It is a school tradition that each Friday the students who are finishing their terms (anywhere from one week to several months) go up and have to give a short speech in front of their classmates.
Much to my surprise I am able to write most of it without much help (Ok I didn’t know the word “Disfrute” meant to enjoy). We head down to the plaza where we sit in a square and he assists me in writing a short but sweet speech. Soon its almost 2:30 PM and I bid farewell to Marcos and return home.
My certificate for 40 hours of Spanish language study.
Two weeks at Escuela Falcon went by for me in the blink of an eye. When I was done I not only had increased my spanish knowledge, but made some new friends from all over the globe (teachers and students).
I would highly recommend that anyone with a desire to learn spanish and at least one week of vacation take a trip down to Mexico and head to a language school. Classes are very affordable and its a great way to feel involved in whichever city you choose. Escuela Falcon was great at setting up extra-curricular activities that gave us an insiders view of the city (Food tasting, a walking tour, and language exchanges).
Tell me in the comments if you have been to a Language School before or if you would consider going to one in the future!