All posts tagged: languages

Lost in translation: linguistic challenges in Chiapas

A definition of intelligence: the ability to adapt quickly to new environments. I have never felt less adequate of this definition than last weekend as I sat for an hour in meditative silence beneath the impenetrable Spanish of my five new Mexican companions. Despite spending around £600 and at least five hours each week on my language learning effort to prepare for this trip, my Spanish level is still little more than inebriated toddler. And that’s when I can work up the courage to speak. Early last week in one of my rare moments of bravery I wandered into a torillaria in the beautiful city San Cristóbal where we’ve been helping our latest project. I wanted to establish whether they made tortillas with corn or flour, and therefore if I could eat them. My questions were met with amused bafflement and I ended up abandoning the mission and leaving the shop empty handed. Elliott turned to me wearily and asked if I wanted him to try. He returned with a stack of tortillas and the …

The gift of English: inspiring teens through teaching

We’re so very fortunate in the UK to be handed the shining gift of the English language from our early years. This advantage has never been more evident as I’m introduced to Chema, a young teen who’s just finished a two year English course at one of Fundación Proaccesso’s community learning centres on the outskirts of Mexico City. His proud teacher Hector has pulled him into our intimidating presence, and nods encouragement as Chema self-consciously joins our conversation in the new language.  To him, he explains, English has been life-changing. It opens up so many opportunities for his future. Such has been his experience on the course and the understanding of the opportunities English can create, it’s inspired him to teach, joining with four other students to lead summer classes in English and a variety of other subjects to kids in the community. Completely voluntarily. We watch him return to the classroom where the first lesson of this course is being taught and already sounds like a riotous success. Hector is visibly moved. He explains …