This week marks the start of our English classes! Our first class took place in the ‘salon’, or grange hall, if you will, that is connected to our neighborhood Catholic Church. We wanted to minister first and foremost to our neighbors, so it was critical that it was accessible to our walking neighbors nearby. We were, however, suprised by the eager students of all ages who made their way from the neighboring town of San Ramon to participate in the classes and further their education.
If we had anticipated the size of the turn-out the first night we opened the doors to our class, we would have had a camera ready to commemorate the moment. It was the most beautiful thing we had ever seen! Over 75 people were in attendance, ages 4-70, standing room only, eager to open themselves up to a whole new experience that many of them would never have the opportunity to participate in otherwise.
Dividing the students into groups, it is a family affair to meet the needs, desires and educational levels of each of the attendees. The bulk of the group are in the beginner’s section where we start at the base of language. Class participation is encouraged as we teach the beginners in Spanish (okay, a lot of ‘Spanglish’)! The encouragement that they receive when they hear that our Spanish isn’t perfect, but that we are willing to try, has created the most amazing, fun, teachable atmosphere you could imagine! Our Spanish improves every week as they help us in ways that they don’t realize are really raising their language skills to a whole new level. Their excitement, participation and growth each week is astounding.
The intermediate group deals with more advanced vocabulary, verb conjugations, and conversation. The best part about that group is being able to open up conversation with testimonies about The Lord, why we are in Costa Rica, and sharing truths as we get to know each other. The Bible is the best textbook for all of that!
Advanced students assist with the other two groups putting what they know into practice in real time, real world types of scenarios. As the sessions get more advanced, they begin to practice translating for the beginning class. It is a wonderful transition for the beginner students to move from hearing ‘Spanglish’ to hear the dialog in real life situations while having the backup of translation for even higher functioning and learning. Several of our advanced students have gone on to get jobs as translators for mission organizations, businesses involving tourism and call center work, while others have joined us for our bilingual bible study and sometimes even get called on to translate there – they have become like part of the family!
We plan on continuing the classes as long as there are people interested, so here we go!