(INGLÉS) Desde la comunidad del CEPE. Testimonios de estudiantes y docentes

How do foreigners who come to UNAM to learn Spanish live their experience? And what about those who teach them? In the following pages we read testimonials of some Spanish students at UNAM’s Teaching Center for Foreigners (and of some of their teachers) that share their enthusiasm, not only for the way they are learning Spanish, but for the way they are living it: enjoying our country and being surprised by our culture and our costumes.

The editors
Elizaveta Lerer

I’m studying at CEPE for about three weeks. The teaching method applied at the school seems to me not only intense but also really conscientious. The whole process works as an intellectual and fun game. In addition, communication with teachers and students here is a pleasure that makes you forget that you are speaking another language.

I find the Spanish they speak in Mexico to be transparent and expressive. Learning it is a very interesting experience, especially after having studied Spanish from Spain during my childhood. It must be said that since then, I have had almost no practice. Now I have the feeling that at CEPE my dormant knowledge is awakening day after day and, of course, new knowledge is appearing. 

Elizaveta Lerer, from Russia, studies Spanish at CEPE.

Jeff Fiechter

As someone from the United States, I find that spending time in Mexico is like spending time at the neighbors’ house. It’s not your home, and there are some different customs and foods, but everything is familiar. For centuries our two countries have exchanged culture, people, business, and territory (although the latter was more of an unilateral transaction).
We are neighbors, and because of this shared history, there is something natural about studying Mexican Spanish. How strange it is to leave your own country to learn the most common form of Spanish, that of your countrymen, but that’s how it is. 
So, whether you want to travel around the Spanish-speaking world or just chat with your neighbors in Chicago, Mexican Spanish will do the trick. 

Jeff Fiechter, from the United States, studies Spanish at CEPE.

Aleksandr Stoliarchuk

The most relevant aspect of studying Spanish at CEPE has been the intensity of the classes. I like Mexican Spanish because it is logical, powerful, pleasant to the ear, and has no vosotros in it. I have been learning Spanish in Mexico for six months; five months with Duolingo and one month at CEPE. It has been an incredible experience. 

Aleksandr Stoliarchuk, originario de Rusia, estudia español en el CEPE.

Steven Hayes

Hello! I have thoroughly enjoyed my four weeks learning Spanish in Mexico. As I see it, it’s great that all the teachers are very enthusiastic and eager to help. I am happy to learn the various forms of the subjunctive and to have opportunities for conversation. I expected Mexican Spanish to be difficult to understand, but it has been very simple. The accent is quite neutral and there is a lot of cool Mexican slang you can use. I am very excited to continue my studies at CEPE. 

Steven Hayes is a Canadian student of Spanish at CEPE.

Burke Arntsen

Ifeel very lucky to have the opportunity to learn Spanish here. I have found the experience to be very diverse and professional because the teachers are smart and the culture classes provide opportunities to increase your knowledge about Mexico. The most relevant thing about studying here has been the class time because I think it is impossible to learn Spanish with less than 20 hours per week. Mexican Spanish is easy to learn, it has several variants because the country is diverse. I have been studying Spanish in Mexico for almost three months, and I love it. 

Burke Arntsen is a Canadian student of Spanish at CEPE.

Julio Flores

Being a teacher of Spanish as a foreign language I realize that I have the opportunity to have a direct impact on people, to help them achieve their academic, professional, or life goals and that is something that gives me meaning as a person. On the other hand, teaching has allowed me to meet extraordinary people, ways of thinking, and cultures different from mine, which I can gradually integrate. The relevance of being a Spanish teacher has to do precisely with the aforementioned characteristics. Spanish is now positioned as an academic, business, and economy resource. Also, it is a great cultural intangible that allows us to understand each other better and to make new relationships; therefore, this is a very important work. 

Julio Flores is a Mexican teacher at CEPE.

Cecilia Santamaría

Working at CEPE is very satisfying in the sense that, day by day, you get to see how your students evolve with their Spanish, but you also know their personalities and interests. With this, learning together becomes very rich. I also learn from other cultures (and, at the same time, from my own) because they share with me their experiences and their vision of a Mexico different from mine. I believe that this dynamic is due to the intensity of the courses and also to the academic freedom we have as teachers.

As for the relevance of teaching Spanish, I have definitely seen that, in addition to learning our language, the combination of Spanish language and Mexican culture helps students change their sometimes stereotypical view of Mexico and Mexicans. With these courses they get a deeper knowledge of our culture in a real sense and that is why they fall in love with our country.

Cecilia Santamaría, is a Mexican teacher at CEPE.

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