Thursday, April 30, 2009

English in Chile- A Story

The neighbor has been insisting she would like her kids to learn English. I decide I would try to help. These are the neighbors who have been wonderful to us. They have 5 children but the 11 year twin girls seemed like likely subjects. English is taught in all the schools in Chile yet none(or few) of the young people speak or seem to understand English. I found this hard to believe-surely they are just shy or reticent to act or sound foolish, I thought.

The twins came over with their English school books-both adorable with their long, dark hair and big brown eyes. But when I spoke any English, their eyes clouded and I could tell they understood nothing at all. I looked at their books. Written in English at about a "Tom Sawyer" level, I asked if they could read it. They nod and read-correctly-a paragraph. But they understood nothing of what they read. Nothing. They recited English like a memorized poem in another language. And understood nothing.

We went on to their English lesson they had done in class. There was a paragraph and the typical "who, what, when, where" questions for comprehension. Because they were done in class, they had the answers, they were done with the lesson. But they didn't know what "swim" or "boat" or "run" meant. They could easily "read" the paragraph but with no meaning.

I don't know if they'll come back for help. I speak little Spanish and explained meanings through mostly pictures and pantomimes. They did understand the paragraph when we were done-you could see it in their eyes. They would say the word in Spanish(I understand more than I can speak) "Correr" after I said the English "Run"so I knew they understood. But they have good grades in English, why would 11 yr olds waste their Saturday morning? Unbelievable to me.

And how can I explain it's good to be bilingual when this is my first experience in learning another language?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Travel quotes

Nice quotes that bear repeating...From here-they make a lot of sense!

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” - St. Augustine

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” - Bill Bryson

“When you travel, you experience, in a very practical way, the act of rebirth. You confront completely new situations, the day passes more slowly, and on most journeys you don’t even understand the language the people speak. So you are like a child just out of the womb. You begin to attach much more importance to the things around you because your survival depends upon them. You begin to be more accessible to others because they may be able to help you in different situations. -Paul Coehlo

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” - Mark Twain

“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” - Robert Louis Stevenson

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” - Henry Miller

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” - Mark Twain

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” - Miriam Beard

“All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” - Martin Buber

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” - Jawaharial Nehru

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” - Lao Tzu

“There is no moment of delight in any pilgrimage like the beginning of it.” - Charles Dudley Warner

“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” - James Michener

“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” - Mark Twain

“Not all those who wander are lost.” - J. R. R. Tolkien

“Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.” - Benjamin Disraeli

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” - Maya Angelou

“Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe” - Anatole France

“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” - Seneca

“What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do - especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” - William Least Heat Moon

“To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.” - Aldous Huxley

“Travel does what good novelists also do to the life of everyday, placing it like a picture in a frame or a gem in its setting, so that the intrinsic qualities are made more clear. Travel does this with the very stuff that everyday life is made of, giving to it the sharp contour and meaning of art.” - Freya Stark

“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” - G. K. Chesterton

“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.” - Clifton Fadiman

Pirque Wine Festival and Concha y Toro

We recently went to the annual wine festival here and enjoyed it immensely. Pirque and the surrounding area is home to many(20?) vineyards. We live near the Concha y Toro Pirque vineyards(drive by going to town). The festival was lots of fun, many wines to taste and complimentary wine glass-for $5000 pesos, hehe. I forgot my camera-darn it. We ran into some friends and we all tasted and tasted(and many vineyards had an English speaking representative). There's a lot of wine here and it's all good. The climate here is perfect and vines here were originally imported from France , largely because there was a disease there killing the old grapevines so to protect them, some were sent to Chile.

Lots of food and booths and interesting things for sale. People in this area don't seem to preserve/can foods at home(like mom so many years ago back in Montana) but at the booths there were a number of women selling pretty jars of various strange canned fruit with spicy additives such as garlic. Odd combinations and fun to look at. But I don't want my fruit with garlic. The local artisans had an array of carved and homemade items-I couldn't resist the older lady who had made little monk outfit wine covers. Or the man who had made little wood stoves(everyone has one here) that actually had smoke coming out the stove pipe(little incense burners).

There was rides for the children and food everywhere. Everyone seemed happy and many carried a glass of wine around. I could have stayed into the evening but we didn't and missed the dancing later on.

We also finally took a tour(last week) at Concha y Toro, which we drive by almost daily. Very strange to see the same field from inside instead of outside. We visited the famous devil's cellar but what I didn't realize is that the cellar(made in the old way of bricks and mortar) is the same (cold) temperature as above which is cooled in a modern fashion(with evaporative coolers). The field we drive by on our way home is actually a field of cabernet grapes and is one of their best, the guide says-slated for the best wine. The grapes are tiny and sweet(yes, she encouraged us to taste).

Concha y Toro sells wine for everyone. They sell everything from boxed wine to Don Melchor(their most expensive wine). And Don Melchor is the wine actually kept in the old cellar, not the Casillero del Diablo that bears the name. I have to say they don't make a bad red wine.

The original mansion built on the grounds had 20 bedrooms which are now offices and has French period architecture everywhere, many statues on the grounds, which I believe she said is 58 acres. The Concha y Toro Vineyard was founded by Melchor Santiago de Concha y Cerda and his wife, Emiliana Subercaseaux, in 1883. To start the winery, he brought grape varieties from the Bordeaux region in France.