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Two weeks of Spanish classes down, two weeks left in Mexico City

I’m halfway through my four-week Spanish course in Mexico City, so I feel I’m in a position to review the first two weeks somewhat objectively.

Honestly, I didn’t have a whole lot of information about the school before I signed up to come here. I’d seen the school’s website — which I wouldn’t expect to be entirely objective — and had seen a few positive reviews on TripAdvisor and Facebook — neither of which I trust much. So I arrived in Mexico City knowing there was at least some chance the school could totally suck — or even not exist. Fortunately, that has not been the case.

The basic Spanish course is a four-week course broken into two two-week sections called Básico A and Básico B. As I mentioned in an earlier post, they let me enter the second week of Básico A, which means, if all goes well next week, I’ll be able to do the last week at the intermediate level. And if I need to repeat a week of Básico B, that wouldn’t be the end of the world.

A tongue-twister in Spanish for practicing the “rr” sound.

A tongue-twister in Spanish for practicing the “rr” sound.

I’m taking what’s called a standard course, which is approximately four hours of Spanish lessons a day. There are a lot of students taking additional small-group and private classes on the side, but four hours is enough for me. The four hours are broken down into two sessions. From 10 am to noon, we study grammar. Then there’s a short break of about twenty minutes, after which we practice conversation in Spanish until 2 pm.

Each session has a different instructor, so we’re exposed to different accents in Spanish and different teaching styles. Also, the teachers are rotated each week, so I’ve already had four different teachers in two weeks. From time to time, the teachers also sit in on other classes to observe each other, giving them a chance to learn from one another. While having another instructor pop into a classroom can be a momentary distraction, I view it in a positive light that the instructors are going out of their way to learn from each other.

Regarding organization, what can I say other than, this is Mexico. Every Monday morning seems to be a bit of chaos, with books missing and registrations pending and classroom assignments unclear. The returning students end up reassuring the new students that this is all normal, and by noon everyone ends up where they belong.

As for me personally, I’m pleased with my progress so far. While I’m still a bit hesitant during the conversation sessions, I’m speaking at least a little more fluidly than I was two weeks ago. That said, I also have reasonable expectations. I didn’t expect to spend four weeks in Mexico City and suddenly be able to engage in spontaneous intellectual debates in Spanish or fill in for Jorge Ramos on his nights off. If I can ask simple questions in Spanish more confidently and have half a chance of understanding the responses, I will have accomplished what I came to Mexico City for.