100% local team
Amigos is first and foremost an educational institution. We are committed to providing our international students with a first-class Spanish learning program, and to maintaining a highly competitive level of quality and professionalism in our teaching. We are an official Spanish school holding a current license issued by the Municipality of Cusco city, employing thoroughly trained and experienced teaching staff.
Our underlying mission of being a non-profit organization, and helping the local children of Cusco through our youth program at our Association Nuevo Dia del Cusco, did not detract from our capacity as a Spanish school in any way.
Our personal team is highly trained, all of them have many years of experience in teaching, have certifications and share a passion for their work and a commitment. In addition, our teachers are all native speakers of Spanish, and most of them have lived in Cusco for most of their lives.
We are a local team
Statement of belief
Learning and teaching languages have been the activities that I have dedicated almost all of my academic and occupational life. As a eacher, a learner, a language user, and a coordinator, I have had the opportunity to experience and learn mostly empirically than academically a variety of approaches in teaching and learning languages. I recognize while reading some theories and research that I have been using some approaches in the previous years without even being conscious to it. In the following lines, I state how some theories and research support what I have been experiencing and believing as a teacher about language learning.
Language and humans maintain a symbiotic relationship. I perceive language as a dynamic entity that represents through its uniqueness the characteristics of each society and individual within a culture. Participants in society might change the system of language and the system of language might change participants. Language is also uniquely used by humans as a tool to communicate through all dimensions of their life: to recall past experience, to convey realities, to project and think about the future, to express information and feelings to an un/known audience as well as to ourselves (Ortega, 2009, p. 1).
I strongly believe learning a new language is an epic endeavor that requires many human components in action; cognitive, emotional, cultural and motivational among others. I believe that agency covers the most essential core for the success of language learners. It entails initiative, constant participation, regulations, self-reflectiveness, anticipation, identity, interaction, projection, empowerment and a voluntarily and constant development (Brown & Lee, 2015, pp 88-95).
Teaching is a constantly developing activity. In all these years I have witnessed that teaching languages provides a more unique, amazing and interesting perplexity to the learning process by involving human aspects. Across her textbook Ortega (2009) addresses important fields to take into consideration such as age, cognition, motivation, environment, linguistic transfer, affection. It is my professional opinion, that learning through a variety of engaging activities and techniques has a greater impact in the process of learning a second language. Given the dynamics involved in learning, it is important that the instructor is also dynamic in teaching techniques and in developing new activities.
I believe all types of curriculum design would work effectively if the teacher can recognize what the students need and the materials s/he can count on. In the past, without having an academic formative background, for about five or six years I was creating a curriculum empirically by paying attention to techniques and activities in class without realizing I was using the Central Design curriculum approach (Richards, 2013, p. 13). However, later on as the school I was working in had partnered with an international language school, we had to adopt a new curriculum approach: Curriculum Backward Design. So, in this new approach, to create the monthly curriculum program for students, we had to focus on the objectives and outcomes of the course. As this approach was new to our school, I thought on the idea of incorporating new materials for the process of language learning.
Students value and find meaningfulness in the class when using authentic materials. During that year of implementing the Curriculum Backward Design, I heard about the importance of using authentic materials in a language class. That is the reason why since then, I have been incorporating cultural items through authentic materials such as magazines, newspapers, flyers, songs, poems and ordinary texts into my lessons. My beliefs about authentic materials have been reinforced, especially when I noticed my students’ motivation during activities in class. Nevertheless, it is important to mention that short stories, diaries, plays and novels, which are not real, are still real in a big sense for the language class as these materials are substantially rich and multidimensional (Lazar, 1993, p. 5). By inviting cultural elements, students become more engaged and interested in learning about the cultural nuances within a new society.
Foreseeing the context where we will use the language might greatly enhance our teaching and learning process. Teaching not only entails learning about other societies but also to project and reflect the dimensions of social context where we will direct our purposes of learning. The social context is a constellation of symbols, events and situations. This scenario is unique and differs in distinctive scales from one to another. According to the Council of Europe (2001), within each context of social life there are generally major different domains classified for language learning / teaching such as public domain, personal domain, educational domain and occupational domain (p. 10). It would be valuable to recognize these domains in order to allocate and direct the focus of our purpose when teaching or learning a language. In addition, theses domains are not juxtaposed, but might overlap and function as an organic mechanism within a sociocultural environment. Socioculturalism covers many theories in which the most outstanding is from Lev Vygotsky “Vygotskian sociocultural theory posits that consciousness has its basis in the human capacity to use symbols as tool.” (Ortega, 2009, p. 219). These symbols are useful to perceive the world around us.
All in all, language learning entails different components to take into consideration such as context, willingness of the learner, support from the teacher and a clear purpose to achieve.
Jesús Napancca Herrera
Founder and Academic Director
Brown, H., & Lee, H. (2015). Teaching by principles: An interactive approach to language pedagogy (Fourth ed.). White Plains, NY: Pearson Education.
Council of Europe. (2001). Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment. Cambridge, England; Cambridge University Press.
Lazar, G. (1993). Literature and language teaching: A guide for teachers and trainers (Cambridge teacher training and development). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
Ortega, L. (2009). Understanding second language acquisition. London, England: Hodder Education.
Richards, J. C. (2013). Curriculum approaches in language teaching: Forward, central, and backward design. RELC Journal: A Journal of Language Teaching and Research in Southeast Asia, 44(1), 5-33.