Sunday, July 17, 2011

Friday, July 15, Day 5

Another day of classes and cycling to Santurce:
Today we examined a number of textbooks that are popular in Spain and discussed some of the latest teaching methods. Begonia went through a grammar exercise to help us think of how we use present tense verbs to communicate a wide array of actions that may or may not have anything to do with the "present."  Our colleague, Maddy, shared a verb conjugation game, which was a nice change of pace since Spanish professors (and Teachers) still act like the "sage on the stage."  Learning through doing in the classroom is still pretty rare in Spain, but to Begonia's credit, she went along with the activity and it was worthwhile.  Gracias, Maddy. 

Francisco used headlines from newspapers, photos, intros and articles to help us understand how we can use the newspaper as a valuable learning tool.  We did pairing, organizing, answering questions, analyzing and writing to demonstrate how it is good to start with the simple and work toward the more complex. 

Ana introduced us to Santurce (Santurtzi in Euskera), since tomorrow is their festival in honor of their patron saint.  This town is about 15 miles up the river that empties into the Bay of Biscay, and the locals will spend the weekend celebrating their port, fishing and other maritime activities.  Jeff and I decide to ride our bikes today in the afternoon and discover a very nice bike trail that takes us along the river all the way.  It's a good ride, and we enjoy the carnival like atmosphere once we arrive.  We pass by the famous "hanging bridge" that ferries cars and people across to the other side, and we lose count of the number of cranes and huge industrial rigs set up all along this historical waterway.  Ana then explains to us the whole social contract in Spain known as the "Estado de bienestar," basically the social security, education and health care system that has similarities and differences to ours in the US.  One thing seems certain, and that is that their system is being challenged by current economic realities just like ours.

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