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Warren Wilson College

Publication Date

Fall 2010

Program Name

Spain: Language, Community, and Social Change

Abstract

During the fall and early winter of this year, I volunteered with a program called, “Proyecto Mirlo,” which is a small part of a larger organization, “Caritas,” whose focus is providing support to marginalized groups of people in Spanish society. Proyecto Mirlo is a subsection that provides free language classes for immigrants, as well as food and, in extreme cases, financial help. In my volunteer work, I taught basic Spanish classes to an eighteen-year-old immigrant from Senegal. As my student grew in his language proficiency, I grew in my teaching proficiency, especially on the discovery of teaching resources that I was unaware of at first. I also took note that there seemed to be a wide variety of ages and teaching styles among the volunteers. This caused me to wonder about the overall quality of an education at Proyecto Mirlo. I feel that the quality of the language instruction given to immigrants is especially important at this point in time when Spain is experiencing such a large influx in immigration. The ability of an immigrant to speak Spanish is, not only a requirement for citizenship, but also essential to acquiring a job that pays over minimun wage. As such, I believe that it is necessary to evaluate programs for language training, such as Proyecto Mirlo, so that the Spanish government can be more aware of how to best support these programs that are providing a vital service to society.

In my analysis of Proyecto Mirlo, I assert that the program works very well to serve Granada’s immigrant population given the resources that it has. Not only are language classes given, but a community is created between volunteers and immigrants, which prepares students, not only to speak with native Spaniards, but also to live with them. However, there is room for improvement, especially in respect to how volunteers are prepared to teach students. Because there is a great variety in teaching styles and abilities present in Proyecto Mirlo, I think the program would benefit greatly from a formal training session for all volunteers before they begin their work. Governmental support would give Proyecto Mirlo more options for improving and expanding the services they already have, but also for more advertising of these services in the community. I am aware that the government does have programs that provide free Spanish classes for immigrants, however, my reccomendations are meant to be taken as more general advice because in my experience, many charitable organizations have weaknesses in volunteer training and advertising.

Disciplines

Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Civic and Community Engagement | Education | First and Second Language Acquisition | Inequality and Stratification | Sociology | Teacher Education and Professional Development