learn german
How to speed up your language learning. Find out in our FREE report, “The 7 Language Learning Secrets Your Teachers Can’t Share With You”.
First Name
Primary Email

We will never share your email.


"This way of learning a language made complete sense to me. Working with the SpeakEZ German course, I was able to understand more in 2 weeks than in five years of German in school!"
      -- Asbjørn Finsnes

"The way in which this method is presented provided me with language that will suit me in a foreign country instead of a collection of unusable vocabulary words.

Those who have studied languages realize that looking-up individual words cannot convey a language in the correct manner. Becoming fluent means being able to verbalize ideas ; not learning technical rules and identifying the Past Predicate Indicative.

The audio part of this method has been my favorite portion of the learning process. Not only is the pronunciation slow and clear, but it is presented so that I remember the flow of sentences and concepts.

Thank you for the opportunity to work with this amazing program; it has been a blessing for me."

-- Destiny Yarbro, College Student

Life As A Single Gringa in Rural Honduras

An Interview by Nathalie Fairbanks

Nathalie: What was your introduction to Honduran culture?

Anna: I was being trained as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Siguatepeque, and Gracias, Lempira for three months before moving to the village where I'd be working for the rest of my two-year stay.

During my training, I stayed with two host families--a nice transition into the culture, which I better understood later. Host families need to adhere to certain living standards, such as a private bedroom with a door for the volunteer. That is by no means something you can expect in every home in Central America.

During these three months, we also had intensive language training. My Spanish was not fluent, despite my straight A's during a total of two years of Spanish classes in college. I will admit that I wasn't very motivated at the time, not knowing for what I would use the language.

Although the on-site language classes helped, I learned the most from interacting with my host families and our counterparts.

Nathalie: Can you share a few stories from your life in the village?

Anna: Sure, I'd be happy to. First I went to Olancho to visit the place where I would live. Several families offered to host me. What I hadn't realized until then was that the concept of privacy was completely foreign to the Honduran villagers. Large families share a house that only has a few rooms, and there are no doors between the rooms! I was able to fend off the generous offers by telling the families that I wanted to plant my own garden and would need more space.

Luckily I found a family willing to rent me their son's house. He was working in the U.S. at the time and wasn't expected back for a while. The house actually has a fence around it

However, a single woman living in a house by herself was quite a novelty for the people in the village. Who would protect me? Who would look after me? Did I just want to be alone to indulge in promiscuity?

That's when it dawned on me that the only image of Americans available to the village people were from Hollywood movies. Add in a few anecdotes related by fellow Hondurans who had traveled to the U.S., and here's what an "American" is to them:

- A blonde Caucasian. Anybody whose skin color is not white can't be a REAL American.

- Promiscuous. American women are seen as loose (this is more a thing with people in the cities and outsiders coming to visit my village, not the villagers in my community).

- Influential. I clearly was the person who could write a letter of introduction to a senator to get someone a working visa to the U.S. (also being American I must be rich).

- The Expert on Life. I was approached with medical issues ranging from gallbladder troubles to high blood pressure, financial questions, and, most of all, questions about American politics and foreign affairs. I had to explain over again and over that I didn't in fact have a personal relationship with the President.

After a while, the villagers came to like their eccentric American visitor. They learned that I didn't fit the stereotype and they tolerated my ways.

Privacy was non-existent, even in my own house. There are no glass windows in the houses there, so either you open your door and shutters to let light in, or it's dark inside the house. The moment you open your door, you invite everyone in, like it or not.

People were very curious as to how I lived, what kind of matches I bought, what I ate, how I slept and how I bathed. All I had in the living room was a hammock and a table. My bedroom was separated by a curtain. It didn't deter people from looking behind the curtain if they didn't see me in the living room.

Water was sometimes available beside the house in the pila (basin; sink). There was a roofless multipurpose structure which contained an outhouse, a makeshift bathing area and a place to wash clothes. I had put up a shower curtain that granted me privacy most of the time. I think growing up on a farm helped me be more relaxed about this than other volunteers who were more used to city life!

Fortunately, my neighbors understood that I would lock my gate after dark, since I was living by myself. Night time was the only time I could actually read a book and have time to myself. Some families offered to send their children to come live with me, which I kindly declined. I was also offered pistols and rifles to defend myself just in case a need should arise. That's actually not allowed as a Peace Corps Volunteer! My neighbors told me to holler if I needed help. One night, I almost did.

I was awakened by a loud racket coming from the roof. Roofs are made of loose tiles that aren't cemented to the rafters, so it's easy for someone to displace them and jump inside the house. I had been warned about this by other volunteers and found myself in fight-or-flight mode. I decided to go see what was going on. I went into the other room to look up at the roof and saw two eyes glaring at me in the dark. Was it a thief? No, it was an opossum!

Nathalie: Which aspect of your experience has had the most impact on you?

Anna: What impressed me most was that everyone genuinely cared about people around them. No matter how poor they were, I would always be offered food and drink, and they would give me the best they had. They cared about how I was doing, would bring over soup when I was sick, picked up a broom to clean, and did anything to be helpful.

The children had none of the modern entertainment that we know in the U.S. and were excited to help me in the garden, collect bits of wood for baking, explore, or look through my pictures.

Hondurans truly understand the important things in life, family and friends. They would always take in children who needed a home. They care and respect their elders. They made time to celebrate life. Life in the U.S. is so fast-paced and commercialized that it's easy to loose sight of human connections. I remember the wonderful chats I had with families on their front porch, watching burros, cows and infrequent cars go by. I still talk to many of them on the phone even though I left almost two years ago.

I have two god-daughters in school who are inspired by my example and will hopefully continue on to high school. I will always feel that my village in El Carbonal, Silca is my second home.

I think that we mostly assume that people would have the same kinds of ideas about life that we do, and that's not true at all. My mind was opened as to how life is for other people around the world. Living in a culture that has such different expectations from my own makes me appreciate what I have, especially the freedom I have as an American.

© 2009 Nathalie V. Fairbanks

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEBSITE? You may, as long as you include this blurb with it: SpeakEZ Languages publishes "Language Learning Express," a free bi-weekly e-zine for language learners who are eager to discover the secrets of efficient language learning, transition seamlessly into a new culture and have fun on the way. Get your FREE subscription and your FREE e-book now at http://www.SpeakEZLanguages.com.

SpeakEZ Languages, LLC
72-12  62nd Street
Glendale, NY 11385
Phone 646-644-2914
E-mail: first.contact@speakezlanguages.com

Home  |  Products  |  Language Coaching  |  FREE Newsletter  |  Articles  |  About Us
Contact Us  |  SpeakEZ Blog  |  Resources
© 2007 - 2009 SpeakEZ Languages.