martes, 7 de octubre de 2014
My Experience with Instituto Exclusivo
From Student to Teacher
When I first arrived in La Paz, Bolivia, I was pretty much alone. My Spanish was not great and I felt very lost and confused. I was here for work and only knew my boss. So I decided to sign up for Spanish classes. I was fortunate enough to notice the large “Learn Spanish” sign marking the excellent location of Instituto Exclusivo and signed up for classes. I thought this could be a great opportunity to learn Spanish, meet people, and discover more about La Paz. After an online test to figure out my level, I was ready to begin.
I was feeling a little nervous when I walked into school for my first day of class. I didn’t know what to expect. But the atmosphere inside immediately put me at ease. Everyone greeted me, somehow knowing me by name almost instantly. I was offered tea or coffee, water, free wireless internet… This was where I wanted to learn Spanish.
Then I met my Spanish teacher. She was incredibly easy to talk to. We chatted about what I wanted to learn, how I wanted to structure my Spanish classes, in order to get the most out of my individual classes. I had never had a learning experience that was so perfectly tailored to me.
I began to look forward to my classes, coming early, staying after, just to hang out on the very comfortable couch and watch the people of all ages from all over the world come and go. I was always welcome here.
After a couple months of private classes, I learned that another student who was about my level was looking for a group. That sounded like a great idea. So we began group classes with another teacher, who was just as wonderful as my first teacher. In these group classes we were able to debate, to learn grammar, to chat, to learn Spanish in a new and exciting way. And more than that, we became great friends. We explored La Paz together, went out for meals, and practiced our Spanish even outside of school. She left La Paz after a few months but we keep in touch and hope to see each other sometime somewhere in the world.
Around this time, I needed a job. And the Institute needed English teachers! So I went through training, learned how the school works and how to structure my classes to best fit the needs of each student, and began the always changing, always interesting, always challenging job of teaching English classes.
I have a wide variety of students. Here in La Paz, I teach adults and children, advanced classes and beginners. I have students from Bolivia as well as Spain and I adapt my teaching style, material, subject matter, and process for each student. I also teach English online through Skype. I had to figure out a completely new way to teach in order to serve students from Brazil to France to Taiwan.
I have a great relationship with my students. I think one of the most important things when learning a language is to feel comfortable speaking it. So I try to make my classes a relaxed environment where students can chat, write, listen, and learn. I love the combination of teaching my students and at the same time learning from them.
The number of interesting people I have met here at the Instituto Exclusivo is unbelievable. I love talking to people from all over the world, learning about different cultures and ideas. Some pass through quickly, only staying a week, while others stick around for a month or two.
I was supposed to leave La Paz in March, almost 8 months ago. I decided to stay because I love this city, I love the people I’ve met, and I wanted to experience life here for a little bit longer. Instituto Exclusivo has played a large part of my life in La Paz and I cannot imagine my experience without the things I’ve learned here, the time I’ve spent here, and the people I’ve met here.