San Antonio Sabbatical

First Private Spanish Lesson at SEFLA

Posted on: September 23, 2010

Yesterday at noon I had my first private Spanish lesson at Spanish, English and Foreign Languages for America, Inc. (SEFLA)SEFLA is a fairly new (since 2006) language school that is located less than three miles from my apartment.  I observed an intermediate level lectura class last Friday and took the placement exam.  Since there are currently no SEFLA group classes at my “Advanced” level, I registered for 20 hours of private lessons.  The usual cost is $620, but I received a 10% discount.  I will have one 2-hour lesson each week for 10 weeks and the lessons will focus mainly on conversation so that I can develop more confidence and comfort with speaking and understanding Spanish.  I requested Elvia as my teacher since I really liked her teaching style and personality when I observed her class last week.  Also, her voice is clear and she speaks slowly enough for me to understand her.  I understood the entire first part of Friday’s class, which was a discussion of a theatrical drama/play — El delantal blanco (The White Apron) by Sergio Vodanovic — followed by vocabulary and an alphabet game, and most of the second part which focused on a complex adventure novel, La reina del Sur (The Queen of the South) by Auturo Pérez-Reverte.

I was very happy to learn that I had been placed with Elvia.  We met for a little more than two hours and discussed my goals and preferences for textbooks and activities.  I emphasized my need for conversation practice with little interest in grammar exercises since I’ve had lots of grammar classes in the past.  I want to be able to have better casual discussions about a variety of issues.  These private lessons will supplement the professional Spanish training I am receiving at OLLU.  Elvia understood and was very accommodating.  This flexibility and custom-made course is a huge benefit of private lessons over a group class.  I have taken several group classes in the past.

The textbook I selected and purchased from SEFLA is Revista: Conversación sin barreras (Third Edition) by José A. Blanco (published by Vista Higher Learning, 2010).  It is similar to other intermediate-level textbooks I have used in the past.  It contains a variety of interesting topics for discussion.  Each of the six lessons contains a short film (cortometraje), grammar (estructuras), readings (lecturas), a comic strip (tira cómica), writing (composición), and a lively social activity (tertulia).  I will watch the short films at home via an Internet link and be prepared to discuss them at our lessons.  I will also select several exercises within each chapter to complete and review with Elvia.  Since my goal is to engage in conversation, our weekly agenda is rather loose.  There is no rigid lesson plan.  Elvia seems willing to discuss whatever topics are of interest to me.

Our first lesson together went very well.  The discussion was casual and comfortable.  We both understood each other and I learned a few new words (which Elvia wrote on the white board).  After covering my goals and deciding on a textbook, we did an exercise in Revista: Conversación sin barreras (Third Edition).  Then, we had an open discussion about our lives and our interests.  Elvia is from Nicaragua and has lived in the United States for over forty years; she is married.  Like me, she enjoys reading (especially mysteries).  I told her about the Meetup groups I attended for Spanish Language and Book Lovers, and the book clubs offered at the San Antonio Public Library.  I shared with her my background and told her about my OLLU courses.  We discussed places visited and good restaurants in San Antonio (I asked her for suggestions).  Elvia informed me that the class I observed (military students) graduated this morning after completing four weeks of intensive Spanish study.  At the end of today’s session, we exchanged contact information (e-mail addresses and telephone numbers) and changed our lesson time to 10:00 a.m. on Wednesdays.  I also expressed my pleasure with today’s session and thanked Elvia.  Overall, I felt really good about our interaction — we “clicked”.  I’m looking forward to our future meetings.  🙂

On the return home, I stopped by Las Palapas, a fast food Mexican restaurant.  Since it was raining, I went through the drive-thru and ordered the “Enchilada Plate” (two beef enchiladas without cheese, rice, refried beans, and two tortillas).  While it was not a fancy meal, it was good for quick, simple, take-out food.  I’m continuing to look for different restaurants to try.  San Antonio is known for its delicious and varied food choices.  I’d like to sample lots of them without breaking my budget or my waistline.

Summer is officially over.  Today is the first full day of fall.  Although here in Texas, I probably won’t see a huge change in the weather.  From what I’ve heard, the seasons here aren’t marked by significant climate changes.  It’s hot and humid all year.  I’m thankful that this week’s temperatures (in the high-80s) are ten degrees lower than those upon my arrival in San Antonio five weeks ago.




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