Spanish on the Salmon

Alzar School | 18.09.14

On our wonderful little campus here on the North Fork of the Payette River in Idaho we are more than 6,000 miles from Curico, Chile, a town we will be visiting during our imminent Chilean adventure, yet Spanish words are leaking from the doors of our classrooms and into our hallways.

Every day each student here at Alzar School spends a class period practicing their Spanish, working toward higher and higher levels of competency. The strong focus on Spanish is to prepare our students to be able to navigate parts of their upcoming international journey. As part of being in Chile we hope and expect that Students will practice their Spanish and be more proficient upon their return to the US. To prepare for this capstone cultural and linguistic experience, students participate in a number of conversational activities pre-departure such as Spanish-only meals, Spanish movies, and mixed-level games.

The Spanish Teaching Team dresses up for a conversation exercise on the Salmon River

One of these experiences  took place  on our recent Lower Salmon Expedition, where we floated down the Salmon River in rafts and kayaks from American Bar to Heller Bar over 5 days. During this expedition the Spanish teachers and the Spanish teaching fellows played an Identity-themed game with all 4 levels of Spanish students at camp one night. The teachers and fellows pretended to be on a TV show (hence the TV appropriate attire by the 4 in the front!), hoping to match with their perfect leader, which was one of the students. This dating game-style activity let the students use their Spanish to describe themselves, or a leader they researched, to the teaching crew. In this exercise they were able to practice how they would respond to some of the preliminary questions asked of the students in conversations they may have in Chile such as: how old are you? (Cuántos años tienes?) What do you like to do? (Qué te gusta hacer?) and Where are you from? (De dónde eres?).

Overall, this experience was valuable in making students more comfortable with responding to questions vocally in Spanish and allowed them to take part in some more natural conversations. It even allowed us to dress up in some exciting clothes that we toted around on boats for the whole trip.