When a proposed visit to Ireland by Spanish students was called off due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the organisers turned to technology instead. Spanish tutor Mariana Jiménez Moreno, who delivers beginners and advanced Spanish night classes in Cork, tells the story:
“In January, a group of adult Spaniards in Valencia who were doing English classes put together a plan to visit Ireland in April. Nuria, the person who organised the trip, contacted me looking for Irish students here who were learning Spanish.
I introduced the idea of the exchange in my classes then. Students interested in doing it recorded a series of videos introducing themselves and describing their cities. We were getting ready to welcome the Spaniards in Cork on April 16 - but everything stopped with the lockdown.
Classes were suspended, so I waited for a month to see if the classes would resume. When it looked like classes were not going to resume, I contacted Nuria, the Spanish students' organiser in order to promote an online exchange between students from Valencia and Cork. Vicente Rodrigo, another Spanish adult education tutor, joined us in the idea. So, the three of us decided to support our students and provide them with tools and resources to keep them going in their language learning process.
The plan was to hold group exchanges through video conferences using Zoom among our students and to promote online one-to-one exchanges. The main objective of the videoconferences was to create a platform where connections among students could be created with the support of their teachers, as well as to engage the students during these difficult times.
We did the online exchange in May with 27 students from Cork and Valencia. The feedback from the students was that they liked being in contact with native speakers of the English and Spanish. Participants were eager to learn and share and they learned that daily practice is essential to be able to carry on a basic conversation in the language they were learning. They also learned to speak with more confidence and fluency, and slower; to overcome shyness and to improve their pronunciation. The online exchanges were also an opportunity to speak and use what they already knew as well as an opportunity to work on their weaknesses.”
Mariana Jiménez Moreno delivers beginners and advanced Spanish night classes in Bishopstown Community School, Ballincollig Community School, Ashton Comprehensive School, and Carrigaline Community School. Last year, in simpler times, she took her adult learners on a trip to Spain.