Sitting under an open air palapa with a refreshing drink in hand and a spectacular view of the ocean, Juan and Gina from Spanglish Language School in Sayulita, share their advice on language learning. Baby Leoní and their furry friends, Astro, Inés, and Colmillo leisurely wander around the property, adding to the laid-back and family friendly atmosphere of this school. This is how mastering a foreign language looks like at Spanglish Language School in Sayulita, Mexico.
Gina and Juan, with Spanglish Spanish and English Language School, you innovate language learning by using a holistic approach. How does this work?
We want to offer a full experience in learning Spanish. We believe that learning a language should go beyond the classroom; we realized that students enjoy when we do different activities rather than simply one on one lessons. That is why we decided to add cultural experiences to our work, like Mexican cooking, chatting with people from town, gardening in a plant nursery, or hiking in the jungle while we converse in Spanish. With this approach we achieve holistic, creative, real-world learning through immersion programs.
Juan, apart from regular Spanish and English courses, you offer so much more. Can you elaborate?
Yes, at Spanglish we teach both Spanish and English. Our Spanish courses include one on one/two lessons, online Spanish courses, group lessons, immersion programs, and immersion programs for kids. Our other services include home schooling, translations, immersion activities, text editing (Spanish only), and business programs.
Gina, how do you incorporate your Mexican background and your love for Sayulita into your teaching?
All our lessons, and especially our immersion program, are impregnated with the Mexican culture and traditions. In our cooking class, for example, we use Mexican recipes from my grandmother. We use Mexican ingredients, like epazote, huitlacoche, nopales, and chipotles. We also offer Huichol yarn art classes where our students learn about the history and traditions of the Huichol Community. Additionally, we have tours around Sayulita, like the margarita and taco tours, and hikes around the jungle and beaches where we share about the endemic species of the Pacific coast and the flora of Sayulita. In our conversational lessons we enjoy talking about our culture’s history and traditions, like Dia De Los Muertos. We also speak about the current news in Mexico, so students can understand what is going on in our country.
Gina, What do you believe is the biggest myth when it comes to learning a new language?
There are several myths about learning a language. For example, it is a common misconception that there is a limit of age to learn something new, or that some languages are harder or easier than others. In my opinion, learning a language doesn’t have to be only about learning the grammar and practicing with worksheets. As a teacher, I have learned that every piece of information we are trying to acquire would not become a knowledge unless we related this information with a real-life experience, so when learning, you need to socialize with the culture to improve. Now, there are many apps to help learn languages many of them are very good, but to really know a language, you need the context, the people, the daily life, and a good language school to help practice and comprehend all aspects of the language, like our school Spanglish offers.
Juan, do you have some practical tips for people who have just started with a new language and want to improve quickly?
Yes, of course- don’t forget that the culture and the language work together. Practical tips are related with the culture you are in, so to learn Spanish in México I recommend to begin with polite words you would use in daily interactions, such as gracias, de nada, por favor, mucho gusto, disculpe, among other words. Also, the greetings and the necessary phrases to survive are very important, like ¿Cuánto cuesta?, ¿Dónde está?, ¿Es picante? Dos tacos al pastor con todo, Para llevar por favor, etc. The best way to improve a language is to go out there and practice by immersing in the culture.
Where can we find Spanglish, Spanish and English Language School?
You can find Spanglish just one block from the Plaza, at Casa Duende Vista’s Palapa, Gabriel Rodríguez st, #6. You can send us a message through our Sayulita Life Page, or feel free to call us at (322) 203-7557 or (552) 716-5932.
*Written by: Inge Poell