Monday, May 24, 2010

Good cafes

It is possible I've already written some of this, but I don't have time to go back through my posts and figure out if I have, so here goes.  La Fortuna is an odd place to live for me because of the focus of the downtown.  The entire town is built around tourism.  While in the outlying areas they are still some farmers, for the most part tourism is how the majority of the people around here make a living.
          I live in a neighborhood, Z-13, next door to the school I teach at, about 3 km up the main road from La Fortuna.   The neighborhood I live in is Costa Rican (or in places Nicaraguan, since there are many immigrants here) through and through.  This is a sharp contrast to the main road down to La Fortuna, which has hotels and restaurants all along its length aimed at tourists who stop on their way to and from the the volcano.
       One aspect which I have been enjoying of living near such a touristy town is the coffee shops in town.  There are two main ones which I frequent.  One is called Rainforest Cafe, though as far as I know it has no relation to the Rainforest Cafes in the US.  This one has the best iced coffees and the people there are nice and helpful.
       The other one is the Vienna Cafe.  Full disclosure, the owner is dating my host sister, so I know him and am biased towards it, but it is very good.  There brownies are excellent and their coffee quite good.  Both places have fast internet and are good bets if visiting La Fortuna.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

New talents

The lack of materials and the need for visual aids when teaching in English to my students has led me to improve my drawing ability.  While I used to be able to draw about as well as the average preschooler, now I am pretty much matching the drawings of my average second graders, which is a notable improvement.

The reason I am writing about this is that today I was teaching the three phases of matter to second graders.  Since the vast majority of the stoves here use gas, I drew a tank of gas connected to a stove on the board next to the word GAS.  My students immediately knew what I had drawn and understood what I was talking about.  Talk about satisfying.  Admittedly, being able to draw a convincing frying pan is not exactly difficult, but it was satisfying giving other failed attempts at drawing I have had here.

I also enjoyed when I asked the students for examples of gas and one of my students pointed to his butt and said, "Gas comes from here" in Spanish.  Since he was quite accurate and not really causing trouble, I just agreed and moved on.  It did show understanding of my teaching, which was good, even if it was not an example I was expecting.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


So I've made it to May.  I am now basically four months into this experience here in Costa Rica.  I still am not totally sure how to teach my students, but I feel like I am learning from some of my earlier mistakes and hopefully will be able to improve upon previous efforts.

The time comsuming activity which I discovered in the past week has been audiobooks.  I bought the newest Dresden Files audiobook from Itunes and spent the last few days listening to the entire book.  While the book was excellent and the reader very good, it took so much time.  The book was 15 hours long, which is an incredibly long time to be listening to one book.  Especially since the Dresden Files books are not particularly long in and of themselves.  I finished it late last night and it was definitely worth it.

Not much else for me to talk about.   Teaching is still the same and there is not much new to say about that.  Tests are coming up for 1st-3rd grade which will be a test for me also, since I am struggling with trying to figure out how to write a test in English for such young grades.

The school has ideas about what it wants to be, but is not always able to live up to those ideals.  This causes stress because the curriculum which I am supposed to teach and the English levels of my students often do not match.  Well, I will simply write the most accurate test I can to their levels and hope they can do well enough on it.  I really don't want to fail a majority of my 2nd or 3rd grade students.

Thats my challenge for the next couple of weeks here.  The weather is perfect today, not too hot nor too rainy and cold.  I hope it stays this way, since I would like to run later this afternoon.