GSE Exchange Challenges Language Learners


Amanda Young, Staff Writer

Arranged by the Global Student Embassy (GSE), students from Nicaragua and Ecuador visited Concha Martinez’s AP Spanish and Spanish 4 classes on March 8.

Martinez has hosted similar visits in previous school years, but this year’s was the 1st with the new block schedule.  As a result, not all of her students were able to hear from the visitors.

Martinez said, “The problem is that, because this year we are in block, they are only talking to half of the classes. My other two classes are tomorrow, and they don’t get that chance.”

The foreign students were hosted by families in the community.

Juniors Julian Ramirez and Annette Ungermann each hosted 1 exchange student, and students from Miramonte hosted the other 2. According to Martinez, the teacher from Ecuador who accompanied the exchange students stayed with a teacher from Miramonte.

Ramirez, a student in Martinez’s Spanish 4 class said, “[Hosting the student] was really fun; I really enjoyed getting to know somebody from another country, and it was just nice to get to show them around the Bay Area. I hope to stay in touch with the student and to host another student in the future.”

Martinez believes that having the exchange students is a great experience for her students. “They actually finally realize, ‘Hey, I can speak Spanish; they actually understand me.’ And also, if they want to say something, they have to figure out how to say it. It’s not like when they talk to me; they just say a word in English and I understand it, but [the exchange students] don’t,” she said. “I actually wish I could do that once a month.”

“I thought it was really good because I thought we were able to practice our Spanish a lot more,” said Ramirez.

Senior Elena Koshkin, a student in Martinez’s AP Spanish class, said, “I really like talking to them because they just really embody the Spanish culture. When you get to meet someone who’s not just your teacher from there, and you’re talking to your peers in a different language, it’s just really interesting to hear what they do in their free time [and] what they do in their daily life. It’s really different but it’s also similar to what we do in America.”

Koshkin has been taking Spanish since 7th grade, and this is the 3rd time exchange students have visited her class. “It’s not hard [to communicate] because we definitely know a lot of the basic Spanish words but it definitely tests you to formulate full sentences and actually have a full conversation with somebody. It tests your ability to put what you’ve learned in the classroom to use,” Koshkin said. “I think that’s really helpful.”