Our hairdresser, Juan Diaz asked us some time ago if his daughter could visit our house to practice her English. Raquel, who will be 16 in October has a busy life. Apart from school and time with her family and friends, Raquel is an accomplished musician. Although her main instrument is the flute, she also plays the piano. Practicing four times a week places great demands on her time. With so much to fit in to her week, speaking English had to take a back seat.
During the long summer holiday, Raquel is obviously under a lot less pressure so she phoned the other day to arrange a visit.
When she arrived on Tuesday, Raquel was a little nervous. She was reluctant to test her skills in English for fear of appearing foolish. She needn't have worried; as ex-teachers we know how to coax students slowly into being confident with their skills.
At first the conversations were in Spanish. Raquel was very gracious and forgiving of our lack of grammatical structure and our awkward pronunciations. Gradually we asked her more questions in English; being careful to choose words that would be in her vocabulary. Clearly she understood us but still gave answers in Spanish.
Yesterday Raquel returned, pleased by the progress she had made the day before. Her confidence was much higher because she gradually answered more of our questions in English. Obviously thrilled by her efforts, she asked if she could return again today. Of course she can; Raquel is a delightful young lady with excellent social skills.
We feel privileged to be asked to help someone in Bigastro, a town that has made us feel so welcome. Being involved, even in such a in a small way, helps us to integrate into local life and gives us focus. We are also learning a lot about the town and its culture.
PS Raquel's father brought us some fresh figs from the campo yesterday. Muchas gracias Juan - they were delicious.