by Work the World

Every week we provide you with free language lessons in each of the Work the World houses which help you communicate with patients and locals (most doctors speak English), and a paid for intensive course in Argentina that aims to improve your basic skills to a level in which you can understand and work in a wholly Spanish speaking environment. This week we asked the students how they were getting on with these lessons.

In Arusha, Steph told us that “The Swahili lessons have been good so far.  We started with greetings which have been helpful and we tend to practice it around the house a bit.  Knowing the basics is really helpful in town and on placement” Rachel added “We’re learning lots of useful words and phrases for hospital and around town.  And there are loads of chances to practice as everyone is so friendly and talks to you”

Lucy thinks that “Lyimo’s lessons are very well selected and really useful.   We like the songs and he has a good manner with his students.  There are plenty of chances to practice around town and people are impressed by our Swahili – everyone wants to talk to the Mzungus!”

Helen uses her Kiswahili to take histories in the hospitals “I really enjoy Lyimo’s lessons and find them very useful and engaging.  I also practice with Emmanuel”

When Stacey and Aileen in Nepal first saw there was a language class on their info pack, they were a little worried as to where it would be and how one would go.  When they knew it would take place in the house itself on their briefing it was more of a comfort. “When the class actually started it was really interesting and funny! It’s like an hour of laughter therapy as well!  It was very useful to learn the greetings, as well as things like days of the week.  It really helped in the placement as our supervisor and local staff thought our Nepali was good enough to take our own patient and examine which we did and it worked brilliantly! It really helped when we asked where it hurts, how long has the pain been there for etc. The patients and their family members would also get excited that we spoke their language.  Outside of the hospital, it was good to use it while shopping – it helps you get a good bargain!”

Dan, who always greeted everybody with a wide smile on his face and “Namaste” said it was really nice using Nepali around town.  While buying presents for folks back home, he used his Nepali skills as much as possible like Hello! How are you? How much is this?  "The shop keeper went on to show more of his goods and explain it in Nepali ... and then I got a bit lost!  It was really nice learning the local language and being able to use it where possible."

In Dar es Salaam teacher Joel’s Lessons are excellent, they really contribute to having a great elective.  Andrew said “You learn a lot more than you could otherwise too as all the lessons are relevant and there’s plenty of opportunity to practice."

For Matt the language lessons are one of the many highlights of his week.  “Joel is really friendly and a highly competent teacher.  Practice has been plentiful especially in the hospital where making an effort really helps.”

Kirren in Argentina finds that he always speaks better Spanish the day after the weekly classes. “It’s a good refresher after the intensive Spanish week.” Beth is also finding it a great help. “Now I’m practising the past and future tenses which is what we’ve just learnt.  Also, we get to do a lot of practise every week, which is good and is going to help me with a Spanish presentation the Director of my hospital wants me to do!”

Kavinda, our Programme Manager in Kandy tells us that “the language Lessons in Sri Lanka really come in handy as although the doctors all speak English (Sri Lankan medicine is taught in English) most of the patients only speak Sinhalese. Learning the basics such as body parts and other important words is really useful. Plus the local Doctors are really impressed by the Sinhalese greetings that our students learn.

Learning a bit of Sinhalese sometimes gets you a good bargain in the town/supermarket from the local shops and it’s sure come in handy to flag down "tuk tuk's" you just have to learn the correct amount and just say it...”

Next week we shall be asking the students “Some of our destinations (such as Arusha) are quite touristy and some (like Mwanza) are a bit more off-the-beaten-track.  How has tourism affected the destination in which you work and how do you ensure that you still have an authentic cultural experience”? Check out their answers next week.

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