Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Real academia de lengua guanaca

Learn "spanish" with la abuela.  The paisas got a kick out of all the crazy things my husband says. 

Monday, May 25, 2009

My Birthday Jello

No one knows how they get the flower inside of the jello, but it sure did taste good.  And it didn't look like the other kind of gelatine from around here that actually looks like it's made of cow hoves.  Uggh.  
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Rolling Meat

Don't even want to think about how far they rolled all this meat, and how much crap ended up on the meat because none of it was covered.
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Archivo Digital de Fotografía Historica de Caldas

One of my friends is putting a lot of work into this, and I think it's pretty cool. It's a digital archive of photos from the department of Caldas.  He's been traveling around to the different towns and going through their photo collections (and is always inviting me to go when I have to work, would have been a great way to see Caldas!).  Colombia celebrates its bicentennial in 2010, and this is part of it all.

Check it out: http://fotodigitalcaldas.com/

Sunday, May 17, 2009

French & Me

I'm way past due to blog about my recent French-learning experiences. When I arrived in Manizales last September, I decided it was about time for me to get serious about learning a third language. I'd started to study before in San Sal, but didn't get very far. The place (we'll leave the name out) is right down the street from my house here, so I thought hey, why not. I'll learn another language, and have the chance to reflect on the language learning process.

In short, it's been horrible so far. I have class twice a week from 6:30 to 9:00. The first teacher wasn't a teacher (in that she really didn't teach), although she had a good command of the language. What I wasn't expecting was such a humongous focus on grammar. Whatever happened to learning a language to communicate? To speaking in class? Quite frankly, the first three months of what I "learned" I could have done at home by myself and online for free.

Why am I taking these classes then? If I don't have deadlines, I don't do anything. I tried to learn Italian at one point on my life, then Telegu, then continue studying German on my own...couldn't do it. Once I get to the point that I can read and listen at a decent level, that what I do. I remember when I was living in Zihuatanejo, I bought all the Harry Potters that there were at that point in Spanish and had a blast. I'm sure I'll get there with French, but for now...

I want to know who teaches these people to teach (or better, not to). The teacher I have right now is decent, but still, nothing spectacular. After class after class of grammar and following the book, I wonder what's up. These "teachers" are basically the same age as me. In many ways, Manizales is like seeing what the US was like 50 some years ago. Family is paramount here, and I respect that. But they also teach like we're living then, too. Grammar is an important part of language, but certainly not the most important. And where has context gone? Why should I have to write 80 words about Colombia's weather forecast for the upcoming month? Since when do meteorologists forecast for a whole month? And when will I ever have to use that?

Also, I don't think I ever want to go to France.  Or Europe really (except for the eastern part or maybe to visit friends in Germany). Montreal, sure maybe, and Africa I really hope so!  So....I want to learn about culture in these places, too.  And what I really want is to be able to converse.  We talk about English as an international language now, meaning that there's more than one right way to say things and think in a language.  What about French? 

I really do like the language, but I'm wondering if I can't find a better way to spend my money.  

Thursday, May 14, 2009

ELF Highlights: Cali ELT Conference

I really should be posting these...at least I'll know that someone actually reads them if they're on the blog!

Name: Erin Lowry
State of Residence: Ohio
Country: Colombia
Host Institution: Centro Colombo Americano Manizales

Highlight 16
Date: May 8 & 9, 2009
Title: ELF Tells Tales at 17th Cali ELT Conference
Participants: 55

From children to adults, folktales have a certain ageless appeal. As EFL teachers, it can be a struggle to engage students in reading, and even more so in the writing process. How can teachers personalize what is taught and motivate their students to develop these skills? Retelling well-known stories and local fables is one such way. Some elements of folklore are common to all cultures, while others are distinctive. This workshop will provide participants with activities that combine the students’ knowledge of local tales, drama techniques, and the integration of skills along with the examination of cultural differences.
On May 8th and 9th, Senior English Language Fellow Erin Lowry traveled to the Colombo Americano in Cali to share two workshops at their 17th ELT Conference and Book Fair, titled “Best Practices in ELT.” 55 conference participants attended ELF Lowry’s workshops, where they shared tales, took part in various reading and writing activities using folk stories, and brainstormed ideas for using local stories in their own classes.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Escuela Marina Orth

Check out the video clip on Morning Joe from MSNBC about the school and changes that have been occuring in Medellin.  I did a workshop there a couple of weeks ago, and thought it was fabulous.  Just have to figure out a way to move Manizales closer to Medellin so I can go back and volunteer!


Here's my highlight...

Date: April 13, 2009
Title: English Language Fellow Visits Escuela Marina Orth in Medellin
Participants: 18

Teachers from various content areas at Escuela Marina Orth, a public school on the outskirts of Medellin, spent three hours practicing their conversation skills with English Language Fellow Erin Lowry.  Teachers discussed their difficulties with learning a new language, how their students feel about learning the English, and participated in various interactive activities to help them develop strategies for communicating in English language. The school was originally founded by former Peace Corps volunteer Maureen Orth, and teachers in all areas have weekly professional development time where they focus on learning the English and technology.