Thursday, July 11, 2019

Spanish with Eugenia

By Bixyl Shuftan

While at the Second Life Birthday, I ran into one lady at her exhibit: Eugenia Calderon. She was the teacher of a class with the name "Spanish With Eigenia," which consisted of several towers. "This is about my educational project," she told me, "I teach Spanish for foreigners." She explained she also teaches in real life.

"My exhibit is a copy of the Satelite Towers in the Mexico City," she told of her build, "(the) towers were built in 1958. It's a monument of the modern architecture in Mexico at that time." A notecard included the following information:

The Satélite Towers are a sculptural set of five triangular prisms of different colors and sizes, arranged in an esplanade located to the north of Mexico City, in Ciudad Satélite, on the main avenue Anillo Periférico on its northern stretch. They are the work of the sculptor Mathias Goeritz and the architect Luis Barragán -winner of the Pritzker Prize-, with the collaboration of the painter "Chucho" Reyes Ferreira. Originally designed as a large fountain at the entrance to the nascent city, the towers have become a distinctive symbol of the area known as Satélite, located in the municipality of Naucalpan de Juárez, in the State of Mexico.

The planning of the towers, one of the first large urban sculptures in Mexico, began in 1957. They were inaugurated on March 1958. The set is considered a pioneer of the Mexican modernist style of the fifties.

The Satélite Towers were declared like artistic patrimony of Mexico in 2012, by the government of the then president Felipe Calderón.

More about the Satelite Towers, or Torres de Satélite, can be read on Wikipedia:

Eugenia told me her class has been in Second Life for about eight years, "I have classes from the introductory course to advanced level, and also from basic conversation to advanced." When I asked how long the classes take, she explained, "For introduction, the course is for seven classes. Basic is for 40 classes. Intermediate 20 and advanced 20." She stated she had more lessons for those advanced students who wanted them, "I have an advanced group who has taken more or less 40 classes."

She did say she can handle only so many students at one time, "Well, just four is the limit for one class, I mean,  more, is not good to the class." She would say two or three is what she often has taking her introduction course.

While classes aren't always exciting, Eugenia told me there have been a number of interesting moments, "Well, something funny in the classes are the pronunciation of specific words, haha. I mean, some student´s pronunciation could sound sound like bad words in Spanish, or rude words, or slang. ... The idiomatic phrases are also hard to describe and understand. If we try to translate that, phrases are weird."

"And something interesting is the cultural differences," she went on, "For example, we in Mexico celebrate the Day of the Dead, and for some students that is weird an scary." And some in North America might confuse it with Halloween. But the Day of the Dead isn't just for fun, it's also a day to remember departed friends and family.

"There are few Latin residents in Second Life," she commented, "and most of us have to know English to communicate with other residents in SL. But, that is good to us, we can practice our English. ha ha! ... About the classes, I´m here in SL because this world is a good tool to teach. I mean, for language classes immersion is very important and SL give that immersion. We have the avatars, the different worlds, places to visit and play role play. We have animations and gestures and I use all of them.  And I can create my own scenarios also."

We eventually parted ways as she had others asking her questions about the group, and there was more of the SLB to explore. Those interested in the class can message Eugenia Calderon for more.

Bixyl Shuftan

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