Friday, May 16, 2014

So . . . what do you do?

"Profe"

That's what I get called more than anything when outside of the house these days.  "Profe" is short for "profesor" in Spanish, and I'm sure you can guess what that means in English.  Try pronouncing PDO-fay, light on the "d" (just a flip, really) and heavy on the "o" and you'll be pretty close.

I haven't taken the time to really write about what we are doing here now that we've changed gears.  Here's a look at what we're up to:

As a "profe," I spend five hours per week teaching two different classes: Culture and Language Acquisition and Spanish Grammar.  Most of the rest of my work week is spent preparing for those classes and spending time with staff/students.

I am not a language teacher in the sense that I am teaching about language rather than teaching language itself.  Call it Applied Linguistics, I guess.  The fundamental principle of my current role is to prepare the Etnos students for their future language learning.

As an organization, we highly value native languages.  Our focus is planting churches among ethnic groups where the indigenous language is strong, yet the people have not been taught God's Word, or have been taught in a trade language, resulting in a lack of understanding and, thereby, lack of fruitful ministry.  The purpose of the Culture and Language Acquisition program is to prepare these trainees to be able to move into a village and learn the heart language of their target people group without the aid of dictionaries and classrooms, all while building relationships and gaining an understanding of the worldview and culture of their new friends.

CLA Class

In Spanish Grammar, I am indeed teaching the grammar of the language, but to people that already speak it.  Three of our current students are Bolivian, two are Argentinian, and the other two are Chilean.  Although some also speak other languages (Quechua, Aymara, and English), Spanish is their heart language.  While the class does reinforce their knowledge of their own language, the principal goal of the class is to teach the structure of their grammar and the reasons behind the forms.  Then, armed with this new understanding and terminology, next semester we will be teaching Grammar Analysis to apply the same principles to other languages.

Thankfully, all of the groundwork has been done for these classes and I was essentially handed the curricula at the beginning of the semester.  However, I have to assimilate the material in Spanish and make it my own in order to teach it properly.  I have added a lot of my own stories and experiences to the mix which makes it easier and more natural to teach.

When I have extra time, I am preparing for a one-week practical technology module that I will be teaching at the beginning of next semester with another faculty member.  The focus is on passive solar such as solar ovens and water heaters.  I am doing a lot of research on various types of projects that we could do and am starting to think about preparations we will have to make to be able to build some of them.

I have also been given the opportunity to preach on occasion at the church we attend.

The bulk of Kaylee's time is taken up with household duties and homeschooling the girls, but she is involved in the inner workings of campus as well.  She has taken on the cleaning of the offices and classroom and is working on getting to know the student gals better, to be able to have input in their lives.

Together, we host the weekly staff meeting in our home and have a student couple that comes over a few hours a week for mentoring/counseling.

One of our student lunches

Kaylee has also been an indispensable help to me in my CLA class as well.  Not only does she help me think things through as I talk about my class prep with her, but with some of the class elements themselves.  As part of the practical training of language learning, we have hosted the students in our home to demonstrate what it is like to experience another culture and language.  In June, we will be having a 3-week language practice time which Kaylee will also be heavily involved in.

 And mixed into all of this craziness, we try to spend some time together and with our funny children.