This week was very similar to most, but because of scheduling conflicts, I only met with Eli once for two hours rather than twice for one hour. We again started with the alphabet, and although I still struggle pronouncing many letters correctly, especially the ones that have the “eh” sound, I am able to see definite improvement from week to week. Last week, I started spelling bathroom words like toilet, shower, towel, etc., and I tried to remember the meanings of all of them this week. Then I practiced spelling them. The last activity we did was form very simple sentences such as “I need to go to the bathroom” and others like that. Although there are many more words now that need to be memorized, I am finally starting to feel like I can actually communicate.
After our session ended last week, we talked about some of the culture he has experienced living so close to Mexico as a child, especially the food. He complained that all of the Mexican food in the Midwest isn’t “authentic,” but he does enjoy the queso at Escaramuza’s. This week, he brought it for me as well as tortilla chips and told me more about his experiences as a child. Beginning this project weeks ago, I thought Eli and my time together would be very formal and classroom-like, but I have been pleasantly surprised. We often enjoy snacks and very enjoyable conversation throughout our sessions. I have not only been learning Spanish but about the culture as well and have been creating a deeper friendship with Eli along the way.
Realizing this this week made me think about the personal learning networks (PLN) we have begun creating. Although Eli and I meet in person and not online, I think we still get some of the same benefits; we are sharing (he is doing most of the sharing) knowledge with each other. Also, since Eli began tutoring me in the language, other Spanish speakers on campus have approached me and asked about the experience and offered help as well.
Although this is more of a physical network rather than the digital ones we have begun creating, I am beginning to realize how helpful sharing learning experiences or knowledge with others can truly be. Learning Spanish on my own would have been a much more intimidating task, and I probably would have ended up choosing a different ILP; however, with the help of others, especially Eli, it is possible. This is something I need to remember when I start teaching my own class in just a few years. Although (at that point), I will have years of preparation, getting help from others, and helping others, is never a bad thing.