Students from Span 301 section 102, through Spanish for Community, Department of French, Hispanic and Italian Studies (FHIS), and in partnership with Ratón de Biblioteca, (Medellín, Colombia), are facilitating English lessons in a context of English-Spanish, virtual sessions with children and teens from the community libraries in challenging neighbourhoods of Medellin as part of the course’s Community Engaged Learning (CEL) component. This testimonial from our students Saffah Ibrahimi and Ecaterina Macari comments on their experience at one of the community libraries, Biblioteca Villatina. Congratulations!
This is in regards to our experience for the El Ratón de Biblioteca, for Friday the 19th. Ecaterina and I had a blast and loved every moment of the time spent with the children.
There were ten children participating. We had two girls that did not hesitate to speak out as soon as we had a topic. The majority of them were in the library ( and participated mostly via the chat as they could not turn their microphone on. At first, they were expressing themselves in Spanish, but once they got comfortable, they began to use more English towards the end (after we presented the vocabulary). We have to admit, as they were speaking Spanish very quickly, it was more difficult for us to understand them but we ended up making the best of it! Another difficulty was that we did not know all of their names. As we wanted to get them participating, we directly addressed the questions but a lot of them were connected using the same name so it was harder to target them personally.
We discussed a number of topics. While we were waiting for all the children to connect, we wanted to know them better by asking their age, name, etc. Our two subjects were cartoons for the communication part and action verbs for the vocabulary. They shared their favourite cartoons without hesitation and were a lot more engaged when playing the Pictionary game, answering in Spanish as well as in English. We had some reservations about the length of the class material, wondering if it would cover the entire hour, which ended up being true. Although the presentation ended early around 35 minutes into the class, we improvised and spent the remainder of the time chatting with the children, to which they were very responsive with.
They asked us a lot of questions: “When are you birthdays?” “How old are you?” “Where do you live?” “What food do you like?” When discussing their city, Medellin, they took the lead and shared their screen to show us pictures about their beautiful home. They were more than excited to tell us about their lives and one of the students even showed us their pet dog!
The most memorable and heartwarming moment was when we received a chat (in English) saying: “Teacher, I love this class.” The class was such a memorable experience and we can only hope we left as big as an impact on the students as they did us. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to do this!
Saffah and Ecaterina