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The "Salón Plurilingüe" Exchange

Salon Plurilingue

Man uts tin wilá ("me gusta mucho")
UTRM student

Es muy emotivo ser parte de esta experiencia
IHRM student

One the most popular activities at International House Riviera Maya is an exchange program with Mexican students from the Universidad Tecnológica Riviera Maya (UTRM) [ website ].

The program provides you with an opportunity to speak some Spanish with native speakers in a relaxed, informal atmosphere —and means the UTRM students can also practise their English.

For each exchange we design tasks to be performed, though we like to keep these as open and flexible as possible.

Our original idea was for there to be two rooms, two "salones lingüísticos" as we call them —one for English, where we speak only English, and one for Spanish, where we speak only Spanish.

However, as it turns out, we quickly began what we call the Salón Plurilingüe, and which has quickly become by far the most popular.

For many of the students at IH Riviera Maya, English is not their first language, and the Salon Plurilingüe came into being by popular demand as a room in which you can speak whatever language you can communicate in.

The UTRM students have discovered something of (among others) German, Swiss-German, Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian, French, Italian, Chinese and Esperanto —and have particularly enjoyed discovering some of the differences and similarities between them and their own languages.

If you have come to Playa del Carmen to learn Spanish, don't be surprised if you come away having learnt a little of the fascinating indigeneous language of the state of Quintana Roo, Mayan, and Mexico's other native indian languages -- Náhuatl, Zapoteco and Mixteco.

"It's a very enriching experience, not just linguistically but also culturally.

"It's a very enriching experience," says Alicia Mendoza, Spanish Co-ordinator at IH Riviera Maya, "not just linguistically but also culturally. It's great to see the satisfaction on people's faces afterwards: they can see that they can communicate in their target language with native speakers and they come out smiling about all the different places in the world the Salón Plurilingüe has taken them to."

"It gave me a new insight to life in this World" was one of the comments one participant wrote in feedback on the program. "Es muy emotivo ser parte de esta experiencia," said another.

The exchange has taken place in Playa del Carmen every fortnight since July 2005.

Comments from students

  • "Mi shatas havi konversacio kun los jóvenes de la región" -- Elizabeth Denzler, Alemania
  • "Es muy interesante que todos hablemos varias lenguas porque puedo encontrar nuevos amigos y soy muy feliz" Huang Xiaozheng (6 months at IHRM)
  • "If you took out the language and just evaluated body movement it would be the same in the U.S as here" -- Katie Dandois, Austin, Texas
  • "Es muy importante y divertido platicar con todos y aprender un poco de ellos" Elita, México
  • "It was a great experience to meet some people from the country, and speak some more Spanish" -- Claudia, Liechtenstein

Comments from teachers

"Las expectativas de nuestros estudiantes se ven logradas en un ambiente agradable y relajado, donde lejos de notas que califican una actuación frente a una lengua que no es la propia, se disfruta la capacidad de comunicarse y conocer personas, que al igual que ellos desean intercambiar puntos de vista y pasar momentos muy gratificantes para ambas escuelas" -- Patricia Dueñas, México

"I am very excited that the Salón Plurilingüe exchange program has been such a success. It’s been great to see the coordination of the schools IHRM and UTRM in creating an event that provides such a unique experience to its participants. I’m always fascinated by the interaction of the students and attendees. The English and Spanish language practice is extremely helpful to students of both languages. However, the cultural mixture always adds an extra spark and intrigue which is invaluable. Oftentimes, students begin to learn other languages, too, like Dutch, Maya, or Chinese" -- Ben Lagow, Salón Plurilingüe Coordinator

Back to Spanish courses

"It was a cultural experience that you just wouldn't get in a normal class" -- Laura Ellington, Austin, Texas

Not so much a clash, as a meeting of cultures...

... but that's Mexico for you: it's a cultural as much as a linguistic experience

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