Pueblo InglesPosted: November 23, 2011
Who would have thought that the sight of couples taking a relaxed walk, or the gentle hum of group conversations, was actually a “torture chamber” for 24 Spanish victims of a Pueblos Ingles week of speaking and hearing English – only English.
Four and a half years ago I wanted to extend a week long business trip to Frankfurt, to lets face it, properly get over the jet lag before I flew home again. I had read in the Melbourne Saturday newspaper how to extend my stay in a European country I had never been to, get to know locals, enjoy typical cuisine and 4 star resort accommodation for free!!! Nothing, Nada, Siltch!
This years venue was the Hotel Coto Del Valle (www.hotelcotodelvalle.com), nestled in the valleys and ravines of the Parque Natural Sierras da Cazorla. A beautiful piece of Spain, birthplace of Spains second longest river, Rio Guadalquiver and very popular for holidays for the Spaniards keen on hiking and horse-riding and history.
Mind you, the program is a week long commitment for the English speaking volunteers, recruited from all corners of the globe. There is no such thing as a free lunch and all that! And it can be draining when you are not used to talking so much!!!! ………………… BUT it’s also fun, heartwarming and very worthwhile.
For the Spanish – challenging. They have 100 hours crammed into one week, speaking and hearing English only. Conversations start at breakfast at 9 am! Other than a couple of hours off in the middle of the day, the conversations continue in either one to ones, two to twos, phone calls, presentations or theatre, including during all meals, until around 10.30 pm each day. For those with stamina, the conversations can continue in the bar till the early hours of the morning. For Antonio and I it was tiring – for the Spanish it must be exhausting!
The most appealing thing for me to volunteer at a week like this is to really get to know 24 “dinky die” Spaniards; to learn about their lives and the key issues they face. Our “Spanish” holiday is enriched by this. Helping someone master the English language is also empowering and can impact upon their families, friends and colleagues in many subtle and positive ways.
Add to that, an extremely well managed schedule by the PI team, (Jason and Sabela), a lot of humour, a lot of good will, and hey presto! Its a great week…………. Thanks Pueblo Ingles! http://www.puebloingles.com