Permaculture Principle #10 : Value & Use Diversity
(a.k.a. "Don't put all your eggs in one basket.")
We're delving into the principles of permaculture in the garden and beyond. One way we're doing this is to create a fun, safe environment where we can come together improve our language skills, exchange cultural traditions and get to know one another.
What: Spanish/ English Conversation Exchange
Who: Anyone who want to practice conversation
When: Wednesdays (This is an ongoing weekly event.)
How: 1. Reserve your spot. 2. Study at home. 3. BYOB if you want--tasting rooms next door.
4. Arrive. 5. Participate.
Suggested Contribution: $5 per Wednesday***.
***There is no designated instructor at this event, but it does require some behind-the-scenes coordination. Your voluntary contributions help us cover hospitality and operating costs. No amount is too small. If you appreciate our work and are in a position to donate more than the suggested amount, we invite and encourage you to do so. All ages welcome.
How it Works:
As per our DIY + DIT motto, this event is designed as an opportunity to practice by yourself, then bring what you know to the table and practice together with others. No pressure. The more time you put in by yourself, the more productive your practice sessions will be. But if your week gets busy and you don't around get to it, come anyway! You can reinforce the skills you already had and maybe even pick up some new ones.
Ideally, between each session, we all spend some time doing any combination of the following:
1) Playing Duolinguo (Free language app lets you earn points and see your friends' progress.)
2) Listening and learning with Coffee Break Espanol. (Free audio podcast, short and digestable; Scroll to bottom of page for first episode.) English learners can find a list of great podcasts here.
4) Making and carrying regular ol', hand-written vocab cards--the tried-and-true friend of language learners all over the world.
The first half of the hour will be dedicated to Spanish conversation. We'll don our beginner's mind and dive in using what we collectively know. The goal is to speak to use as much spanish as we can. If we don't know/ can't remember a word, we do our best to talk around it or ask someone around us. Of course we can stop and look it up in a dictionary, but to be honest with you, I kind of discourage it. Why? Because a couple decades of language study have taught me that true conversation is spontaneous, not researched. Also, because 30 minutes goes by quickly and no one is coming all the way out here so they can look at the top of your head. ;) At 7 we'll switch to English. That way, hopefully, everyone will get the chance to be both teacher and student in the same hour.
Sometimes I may shake it up with an activity or special guest. I'll do what I can to keep it engaging and fun. If something's not working for you or if you have suggestions, PLEASE let me know. That's the best way to make it effective for as many people as possible.
Space is limited to 20. To reserve your spot, please email us to let us know you're coming.
Why am I doing this? Here's the back story:
Confessions of a Fruit Baby, or Why I STILL Can't Speak Spanish
As a young person I was a bit of an exocitist. Though I grew up in the orchards of Naches Heights, surrounded by Spanish every day, when I got the chance to study language in school, I went straight for French and Russian. Maybe because I thought I could already understand Spanish well enough to get by. Maybe it was due to a hyperactive imagination. In any case, in spite of the fact that I can read and even understand rudimentary Spanish, to this day I remain utterly unable to form a sentence of my own.
While I do get a certain amount of pleasure out of reciting Russian poetry to my cats, on a practical level, I am constantly confoundeby my own ignorance. Sometimes when I go to Antojitos or La Casa Hogar, I'm tempted to strike up a conversation. But the impulse only lasts a second--until I remember that when it comes to speaking, I don't actually know anything at all. Only isolated nouns and unconjugated verbs. I've been a language teacher, and I'm just not going to put anyone through that kind of pain. So instead I smile and nod and ardently insist: "Gracias!"
In the context of Yakima, that leaves a big communication gap between me and a large portion of my close community--people I'd really like to get to know better.
I know I'm not the only person around here who would like to speak better Spanish. Not only is it fun and interesting on a cultural level, it's profoundly useful in the job market, too. Somewhat ironically, there aren't a lot of resources available to help us achieve this. I also know that there are a lot of Yakima residents who would like to improve their English conversation skills, too. I've worked with ESL learners in lots of communities, and I look forward to doing it again.