Monday, May 25, 2015

Learning Spanish and serving the community in Nicaragua

We have been involved in Spanish language instruction for some time. In fact, the Apoyo Spanish School is the oldest of the Nicaragua Spanish schools. That accumulation of experience in Spanish instruction at Gaia-25 years this year-has given us a few lessons.

The first lesson we have learned about Spanish instruction is that Spanish is a dynamic language. It is not easy to learn a language in a classroom in some country where Spanish is not spoken by most people. One can learn more Spanish by getting away from the television, radio, and all the chatter of friends and neighbors, at least when these things are going on in English. We are amazed and dismayed when folks ask us if their Spanish teacher will speak English. We hope not! Our teachers work in Spanish throughout the class period, and afterward, the students get to speak with folks in Spanish, too.

Apoyo Spanish School classes are surrounded by nature and green vegetation. Spanish students learn and give back through service-learning in our environmental volunteer program. Photo Jen Moran.
Most folks feel uncomfortable at first when confronted with a situation in which everything is conducted in Spanish. After all, it is much more comfortable to talk about Spanish than to talk in Spanish. But the latter is really the objective, and talking about Spanish won't ever get you there. Our classes at Apoyo Spanish School help the students learn better and faster by getting them into a total immersion setting. By learning with local teachers, the student also learns the linguistic particularities which abound in Nicaragua. And, there is always the lake inviting one to forget their worries!

Nicaragua Spanish School
Studying Spanish can be a bonding experience. Photo Jen Moran.
We have also learned that learning is best connected to service. The Apoyo Spanish School is a service-learning program. All students are given ample opportunities to give back to their community by participating in environmental activities. our students help with rescue animals, which may mean things as mundane as cleaning cages, changing water, or collecting seeds and fruits for the animals to eat from the wild forest. Our students also participate in reforestation activities. The Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve has several deforested areas, and we work with local landowners to return natural forest cover to those areas, benefiting the wildlife and helping to take care of our precious nature at Laguna de Apoyo.
service learning
Learning Spanish is also about serving. Students at Apoyo Spanish School participate in activities such as growing trees for regenerating natural forest in deforested areas in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve. Photo Jen Moran.
Students volunteer part of their time while studying at Apoyo Spanish School in some activities to make Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve a better place for everyone. Every person comes with some special skill or ability, and not everyone can do the same thing. But there is always something to do for everyone.
The tree nursery at Estación Biológica  in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve has flourished during the dry season, thanks to the participation of students of Apoyo Spanish School. Photo Jen Moran. 
The reforestation project at Estación Biológica, the site of Apoyo Spanish School, has been immensely successful, in fact it is among the most successful natural forest restoration projects in the region. We have successfully grown over 8000 trees which now are part of the forest canopy. This has required the planting of many trees, because some die from drought, trampling, or especially from fires. We put a lot of effort into every tree so the survival rate is as high as it can be. Our volunteers through the Eco-Warrior program and Apoyo Spanish School are vital to keeping Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve wild and beautiful. 

Apoyo Spanish School
A mahogany (Swietenia humilis) tree is ready to find a new home in a reforestation plot. Spanish students learn the language in interactions in volunteer activities as well as in the classroom. Photo Jen Moran. 
Another lesson that we have learned in twenty-five years of Spanish language instruction at Apoyo Spanish School is that learning is a two-way process. Every person who comes to study Spanish with us also brings something for us to learn. The unique contributions of each person that pass our way all leave a mark on us and on the Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve. And, our Spanish students leave with substantially improved Spanish skills and memories of service shared with this lovely country. We appreciate the contributions people make to Nicaragua through their service-learning activities.

Thanks to Apoyo Spanish School student and volunteer Jen Moran at Jen Moran Photography for these wonderful photos. Visit her website and tell her how much you like her photography! Please contact us if you would like to learn or improve your Spanish at Apoyo Spanish School

You can help us keep nature wild in Nicaragua, by volunteering your time with us or making a small donation to support our projects in wild nature conservation.

Apoyo Spanish School
Click on the "escudo" to contact us.

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