A Language Exchange Workshop in progress.
Anette Skou, Foreign Residents Dept.
“So many people take language classes but are lacking in conversation.Here one can practise”
“A language barrier can pose serious difficulties for the fire brigade, and can impede their chances of working as effectively as possible”
The Mijas Town Hall’s Foreign Residents Department is this week in the process of re-launching or launching existing or new programmes designed at improving levels of integration and communication between the municipality’s foreign and Spanish communities.
The initiatives include ‘The Language Exchange Workshops’, ‘I Speak English’, and a new scheme being introduced to assist emergency workers with their command of the English language.
Established in 2010, ‘The Language Exchange Workshops’, have, according to the Foreign Residents Department, been steadily gaining in popularity, and this season, which begins this month, more than 150 people are expected to participate.
Head of the department, Anette Skou comments: “So many people take language classes but are lacking conversation. These [workshops] are not classes, rather an exchange of languages, where one can practise with a native speaker.
“A Spanish-speaking person and an English-speaking person converse for about 45 minutes in English and then 45 minutes in Spanish.”
Mario Bravo, the Councillor for Foreign Residents, adds: “These workshops are ideal for those who are studying English or Spanish language [at another centre or privately], because it gives them the opportunity to practise what they have learnt.”
‘I Speak English’
Also re-starting this week is the ‘I Speak English’ programme, where English-speaking volunteers attend Spanish schools in Mijas to offer the pupils the opportunity to practice their English conversation.
Of the scheme, which “needs more volunteers due to increasing demand” from schools, Anette says: “The groups of volunteers go to the school twice a week in the morning and the classes are held in the conference hall of the school. Three or four children are assigned to each volunteer, so the classes are quite intense.
“Anyone can participate as a volunteer as long as they have a good command of English. The volunteers commented that they were pleasantly surprised by the good level of English and how polite the children were towards them, adding that it is a very satisfying experience and most of the volunteers thought it was a wonderful way to contribute to the Mijas community.”
October is also the month in which an additional group of local foreign resident volunteers is for the first time to offer conversational classes to the municipality’s fire crews.
“More than 40 per cent of the Mijas population is made up of foreign citizens and in a case of emergencies, especially when there’s a fire, a language barrier can pose serious difficulties for the fire brigade, and it can impede their chances of working as effectively as possible,” points out Anette Skou.
Besides this, the department is currently already coordinating approximately 50 volunteers who offer interpretation services at local health centres, the police stations and Guardia Civil headquarters.