Darlene Foster's Blog

English Immersion in Extramadura

Posted on: August 18, 2020

For those of us who love to travel and meet new people, this has not been a good year. Many travel plans have been cancelled and it’s been difficult to make future plans as we don’t know what lies ahead. When an opportunity to join an English immersion program in another part of Spain came up, I jumped at the chance. And I’m so glad I did. I had volunteered for a similar program thirteen years ago, and in spite of some limitations due to the Corona19 Virus, this was just as enjoyable and rewarding.

The six-day Estacion Inglesa program consisted of 10 English speaking volunteers and 10 Spanish speaking professionals seeking to improve their English communication skills. The program was well organized, with a variety of participants and activities. Even during meals, two English speakers shared a table with two Spanish speakers to keep the conversations going.

Meal time conversation, the only time without wearing masks
Amazing food was served. I loved this roasted vegetable tower.
Desserts too beautiful to eat.

For our time and effort, English speaking volunteers are provided 4-star accommodation in a lovely setting and three fabulous meals every day. The program I took part in was held at Hospederia Parque de Monfrague, in Extramadura, a province in the southwest part of Spain, near the border of Portugal. This is a part of Spain I hadn’t been to before. The hotel, situated in a National Park, had lots of open spaces for us to keep the required two-metre distance. A perfect spot to engage in conversation with gorgeous views of oak orchards, foothills, sheep, cattle, and horses grazing, and bulls resting under a tree.

The lovely view from my room
Sheep, bulls and a horse – rural Spain.
One of many places to hold one to one conversations

It was a win-win situation. The Spanish participants improved their English speaking skills notably while they gained confidence and became much more comfortable with the language. And for us volunteers, we made some amazing friends, learned a lot about Spain, the people and culture, and had a lot of fun.

Many perfect spots for one to one conversations at the hotel
English communication wearing the obligatory masks
A chat about common idioms under a tree

Besides many one to one conversations, the various group activities included a board meeting, a debate, making phone calls, creating a photo video, quizzes, and other games. The only rule is no Spanish can be spoken as it is an English immersion program. To keep us all safe, masks were required at all times except when eating which made it a bit more difficult, but we managed OK.

Having fun creating a Zombie photovideo.
Yes, that’s me, the dead Zombie on the left.

The days were long but I loved every moment because I got to talk to interesting people and you know I love doing that. Making new friends was a bonus. This was a highlight in my otherwise lack of adventure year.

We were each presented with a certificate of program completion
All of us at the medieval village, keeping appropriate distances

One day we were taken on a field trip to a medieval village, but I’ll save that for another post.

For more information about this program https://www.estacioninglesa.es/en/

Note: All photos were taken by myself or the Program Coordinator

81 Responses to "English Immersion in Extramadura"

An opportunity not to be missed – lovely place.

I was so lucky to be able to do this. Thanks.

This is just the THING I long for, immersion (safely of course) in something new.

Congrats on earning your certificate. I can tell you had loads of fun doing it – an extreme learning experience as well for all concerned. Well done, Darlene!

It was just what I needed!!

What an amazing opportunity, Darlene. Love the beautiful masks!

Thanks, Jacqui. It was wonderful.

What a beautiful place to be and it looks like you all fun while teaching and learning. Yes I love the masks…btw you make a great zombie lol…too funny. #SeniSal

My first role as a zombie!! It was a great experience.

What an incredible opportunity, Darlene. Thank you for sharing this with us.

It was great! Thanks.

Absolutely wonderful! Beautiful landscape and venue, lovely people, and, not to be missed, yummy food and were those glasses of wine? Sounds like a fun and interesting time all around.

Yes, we were given wine with lunch and dinner. So much fun for all.

A wonderful opportunity much fun and learning…It looks idyllic, Darlene a perfect venue ❤

We couldn´t ask for a better venue. A perfect opportunity.

I can understand why you jumped at this fabulous opportunity, Darlene!

Too good to be true. Just my cup of tea!

This sounds like a wonderful program, and what an opportunity. Thanks for sharing.

It is a wonderful program and so well organized.

Wow! That was an amazing experience! It’s hard to believe you got such rewards just for talking!!

I know. I love to chat with people and learn about them, so it was ideal for me.

I’m sure the people especially enjoyed talking to you. You could connect with them on so many levels.

What a wonderful experience for all involved! I could tell how much everyone was enjoying themselves–even with the masks on.

You can see a smile even behind a mask! It was good fun and rewarding.

This does sound like a great programme to be part of, Darlene. Your photographs are wonderful and you are very photogenic.

What a great way to learn! I think we need a little more information about the dead Zombie photo. 😎

Fun always makes learning easier. The zombie photovideo was a fun group activity that we all got quite into.

Darlene, what a great time for you all … helping others with their English in such a beautiful setting. The food looks delicious and how wonderful to make new friends in these days! So glad you had this opportunity of adventure this year!

Making new friends is always a bonus for me. xo

You get to talk all day? Sign me up!

For those of us who love to talk, this program is ideal.

What a fantastic idea and great opportunity. I am tempted maybe something to put in my calendar for next year. Thanks for sharing Darlene. ❤

You would just love it. Hopefully, next year travel will be easier and safer. There are a number of locations too, all gorgeous. Let me know if you decide to attend.

What a great opportunity, Darlene. No wonder you jumped at the chance.

I am not one to pass up an opportunity like this. All it cost me was a train trip to Madrid and back.

It sounds fantastic, Darlene. An opportunity well worth taking!

It will be a good memory of 2020.

It will – something of a rarity!

Great write-up of our shared experience, Darlene. It was fun to see all the photos again too.

Glad you enjoyed the post and the experience. Thanks for coming with me!

What a really good idea.

It is a great idea. Plus, an opportunity to see a part of Spain I hadn´t yet. Have you been to Extramadura?

What a wonderful opportunity, Darlene. Seems you may have benefited as much as the students.

I agree, the way the program is designed the volunteers get as much out of it as the learners.

Sounds like the perfect adventure for these times. Glad you were able to enjoy it to the fullest!

It certainly helped break the monotony of living in the time of COVID 19. Our safety was ensured by the hotel and program coordinator.

Sounds and looks like the perfect antidote to lockdown isolation. What a great idea. Loved the photos – looks like a lovely place – and you make a good zombie 🙂

Thanks, Anne. Playing the part of a Zombie was so much fun. Proves that grandmothers can still be silly and have fun!

Looks like you had a wonderful time, Darlene – delicious food, good conversation, beautiful views – and zombies! Sorry you didn’t make it, lol.

Who knew Zombies were deathly allergic to pillows!! I had a great time. xo

What an exciting opportunity and an excellent idea. The venue was the icing on the cake.

It is a great idea and works well for adult learners. Couldn´t have asked for a better venue. xo

Yes, on all counts! 🙂

What a wonderful experience, Darlene. Great that you took this opportunity, and free accommodation. Wow!

It made up for not getting away this year!!

So very happy for you Darlene…a great memory of 2020 during Covid19 times….lovely to read about..looks like an awesome setting too.

It was great and brought to mind the fun we had in 2007. The setting was great. xo

What a brilliant idea – and weren’t you brilliant to take them up on their offer. I’m often amazed at your flexibility in learning new things and meeting new people, even during this time of Covid. And… I hope you showed off some of your Amanda books too. Reading a middle grade book is a good way for your new friends to work on their English.

It is a great idea and works amazingly well. The good thing about being retired, you can be more flexible. I did take along some Amanda Travels books and sold all of them. One participant ordered a couple of my books from Amazon as well as he felt it would be a great way to improve his English.

What a lovely experience! And I’ve never known anyone who traveled to rural Spain. Looks like something I could really enjoy.

You would love it. Rural Spain is wonderful and so full of history. Spain is not just beaches!! Thanks for your comment, Jean.

What a fabulous opportunity Darlene. It looks like the benefits to both participants and those volunteering was extraordinary. I mean how often do you get to pretend to be a zombie?

It was a great opportunity. If I’d known how much fun it would be to play a Zombie, I would have done it years ago!!

What a great opportunity! I am green with envy. We had to cancel our travel plans and the part I love the most is about meeting new people. I enjoyed your post.

Thank you. Sometimes a great opportunity lands in your lap. NIce to have you visit my blog.

Thanks for sharing this experience Darlene! What an incredible opportunity for you. The facility looks outstanding and the experience itself sounds outstanding! This is an experience you will always treasure! Good things can come from bad situations!!

This is so true, Kirt. So pleased you enjoyed this post.

What a wonderful experience. Thank you for sharing it. It looks like a brilliant way to learn a new language.

I have always believed that learning should be fun. This experience certainly is.

Hi Darlene, This is a fascinating post, and what an extraordinary and rewarding experience. Toni x

Something I will remember for a long time!

What a fabulous opportunity! This must have been such a rich time.

It was a great way to get to know the wonderful Spanish people. Rich indeed. Thanks.

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