At CILAC Freire each week's activities focus on a contemporary social, economic, or political issue in Mexico or Latin America as a whole. Some topics are chosen to commemorate the anniversary of an important historic event. Other topics, like human rights, indigenous cultures, the role of women, health, and education, are tailored to the special interests of the students.
At CILAC Freire the teaching of Spanish as a second language is of primary importance. All of our teachers are native speakers with professional and special training. All are committed to the CILAC Freire concept of introducing culture through the study of language.
Classes are small (a maximum of five people) and are structured to accommodate the particular level of each student. You have a different instructor each week so you can experience different styles of teaching and listen to different voices and accents in the language. All classes, discussions, and lectures are conducted in Spanish (translation is provided during lectures upon request). Students take an active role in the creation of classroom activities.* Assignments include reading newspapers and magazines, writing compositions, viewing television, listening to and interpreting songs, shopping, dancing lessons and preparing food among others.
* PLEASE NOTE: CILAC Freire offers private classes and is glad to structure individual study programs to suit particular professional, academic or personal interests. We also organize special programs if you have a group of 10 people or more.
Students are welcome to start classes on any Monday throughout the year. Incoming students are interviewed and given a written exam to evaluate their language skills and place them with students at a similar level.
Classes are from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and they are divided into two parts:
Every morning, five days a week, there are three hours of intensive language instruction starting at 9:00 a.m. On Mondays, the day starts at 8:45 a.m.(8:30 a.m. in Summer) when the teachers, staff and students of CILAC Freire come together to introduce new students and talk about the activities for the week.
On Monday and Wednesday afternoons, from 12:20 p.m. to 2:00 p.m., students gather for "practica", analyzing articles, increasing vocabulary and having conversation and discussion on Spanish topics or situations of interest to the group. These sessions are led by CILAC Freire teachers. On Tuesdays, speakers come from local organizations to talk about their work. On Wednesdays at either 2:10 p.m., documentary films and videos are shown. On Thursdays, students visit local organizations, communities, museums, or cultural groups. On Friday afternoons, students, faculty and staff come together to comment on the week's work and experiences. Also, this is the time when we have a little good-bye celebration, called a "despedida" for departing students.
Paulo Freire was an educator in the 1960's who developed an adult literacy program in desperately poor northeastern Brazil, which eventually formed the basis for his philosophy of education. Paulo Freire refers to the "generative word," which is taken from and applied to the student's own personal reality; as well as the importance of the student's active participation in his or her own process. In essence, this philosophy teaches that "... those who, in learning to read and write, come to a new awareness of selfhood and begin to look critically at the social situation in which they find themselves, often take the initiative in acting to transform the society that thas denied them this opportunity of participation." (Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York, NY: The Continuum Publishing Company, 1989, Foreward by Richard Shaull, p.9.
The methodology we use is unique in Cuernavaca and, for that matter, in many parts of Latin America and Spain. It is an attempt to steer clear of traditional, mechanistic methods which, often, are also ideologically oppressive. It has not been easy to change what we, as teachers, have been doing for years and what we, as students,experienced in our own educational process. Paulo Freire refers to the "generative word" to be taken from and applied to the student's own personal reality and about the active participation of the student in his or her own process. The teacher/facilitator's job is to be open, respectful, and above all, humble, maintaining a horizontal (rather than vertical, superior-inferior) relationship with the student. As we are working with people from other cultures, we cannot use "generative words" as such. However, the concept is taken into account while making specific points of grammar and creating participatory exercises which explain and demonstrate the reality of the Spanish language as it is manifested in the culture of Mexico. All of this happens through an integration of classroom instruction and direct experiences with the culture. For us, to teach language is to teach culture; they are inseparable and one cannot teach or learn one without the other. The "culture" we speak about is not some idyllic concept; it is the present, concrete reality of a people whose heritage,contradictions, and problems are integral to understanding their language.