Source: Sherman Publications

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Locals travel to Honduras for immersion in Spanish

by Susan Bromley

May 02, 2012

Riley Murray recently returned from a visit to Honduras and Utila, an island off the coast of the Central American country.

The trip required eight days away from her fourth grade class at Belle Ann Elementary, but it wasn't all a beach vacation for Riley, 10, and her mother, Jessica Arundel. The pair attended Centro Internacional de Idiomas, a school specifically geared to teaching foreigners Spanish.

"I got to learn a lot of new things— new sentences that can help me when I travel, and reflexive verbs," said Riley. "It was just me and my Mom with the teacher, so I learned a lot more than regular school and I got to meet a lot of new friends that helped me with learning."

Arundel, who owns In Motion Anytime, 4 N. Ortonville Road, travels often with her daughter to countries where the native language is Spanish and for that reason, they want to learn to speak it fluently. Their Ortonville home is decorated in Post-It notes with Spanish words, Arundel said, and she also has the television programmed to Spanish closed-captioning. When planning her most recent trip, she wanted a deeper learning experience, so she Googled Spanish schools in Honduras and found Centro Internacional de Idiomas, an immersion program.

Arundel and Riley flew into San Pedro March 25 and took a bus to La Ceiba, where they lived with a host family for the week while attending the Spanish school four hours per day.

"If you want to learn a language, that's the way to go about it— an immersion program is the way to do it," Arundel said. "It forces you to learn. At home, (speaking a foreign language) is recreational, it always gets pushed to the side with other things you get busy with."

Riley is excited about phrases she learned, including "Yo moriria por diez libros" ("I would die for 10 books").

Of course, the trip wasn't all spent in class. After the week at school, Riley and her mom spent two weeks on the island Utila, an island off the Honduran coast, where they did a lot of scuba diving. Riley reels off a list of sea creatures she saw, including stingrays, needlefish, trumpetfish and flounder.

Besides getting a better understanding of Spanish, Arundel had another goal with the trip— to see if she and Riley would work and study well together, as she wants to homeschool her daughter next year, enabling them to travel more. She said she found they do mesh well.

"I will have a homeschool program that I use, but life is a lot more than what we live in our community, you gotta get out and see what's out there," said Arundel.

She notes her education plan for her daughter is not very conventional, but she's not a very conventional person. Riley seems to be on board with the plan.

"Me and my Mom really want to go to Peru and see what its like there," she said. "I want to learn French, too, so I can travel the world and learn a lot of languages."