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Transitions Abroad Magazine May / June 2006 Vol. XXIX, NO.6
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Issue Focus: Language Immersion Worldwide
Regional Focus: Latin America

In Every Issue
Information Exchange
Traveler’s Almanac
World Music & World Films
Postings
Book Reviews
Program News & Notes

Abroad at Home
Si, Parlo Italiano Corbitt Nesta

Interview
Joshua Berman and Randy Wood: Travel Writers John Coyne

Features
The Coca Plant Paradox Tim Leffel
Volunteer Work in Brazil Volker Poelzl

Immersion Travel
Chillin’ in Chacala, Mexico Ande Wanderer
The Road to Kuelap, Peru Andrea Berg
Bolivia’s Cordillera Apolobamba Martin Li
Teotitlán del Valle, Mexico Ron Mader
Panama City’s Attractions Roy A. Barnes
Carnival in Panama Alexander Ohlers
Mexican Fiestas Cindi Bower
Go Inside Buenos Aires Daniel Gabriel
The Caves of Western Belize Merry Young
Argentina’s Wetlands Donna Tipping
Off the Gringo Trail, Ecuador Chris O’Connell
Writing Workshops in Guatemala Katherine McIntyre
Biking through Mexico Kara Shane Colley
Guatemala’s Fuentes Georginas Thomas E. Kilduff

Back Door Travel
Going Green in the Lake District Rick Steves

Language Immersion
The Best Resources Edward Trimnell
Choosing a School for the Older Student Clem Henriksen
Language Study in South America Donald Johnston
Instituto Cultural Oaxaca Sarah Keyt
Language School Hopping Jennifer Colletti
Language Immersion in Spain Sybil L. Holloway
Studying Spanish in Peru Douglas Haynes
Ways to Learn Spanish in Buenos Aires Debra S. Fuccio 
Escuela Bellavista, Chile Hannah Shanks
Portuguese for Foreigners Yolanda Steiman
A School for Serious Italian Learners Diana Saluri Russo
Learn Romanian in a Carpathian Mountain Resort Dori Saltzman
Learning a Language Where It’s Spoken Sarah Muxlow-Jacquet
Study French in the “Cradle of the Language” Patricia Gilbert
L’Atelier 9 in Paris Sally Ottaway
Learning Arabic in Beirut Michael Laff
Study Chinese in Shanghai Rhett Merz
Chinese in Off-Beat Places: Singapore Joshua K. Hartshorne
Korean Language Study Sheila D’Souza

Living Abroad In...
No Bright Lights, No Big City: Belize is a Stable, Multicultural, Subtropical Paradise Lan Sluder 

Work Abroad
Teaching English in Costa Rica Geraldeen Woods
Teaching English in Mexico Douglas Bower
Rural Conservation Work in Mexico Gerhard Buttner

International Careers
Beyond the Basics: A Second-Language Acquisition Primer for Teachers Natalie Lorenzi

International Career Adviser
Language Learning and International Careers Jean-Marc Hachey

Education Abroad
Live the Language You Learn: How to Make the Most of Studying a Language Abroad Dave Prine
Bridging Hemispheres: Understanding Latin American Cultures Jim Citron and Skye Stephenson

Transitions Abroad
Doing What You Love, with Others in Mind R. Wade Alexander

 

From The Editor

As this issue was headed to press Congress was considering a major overhaul of immigration policy. It’s a political tug-of-war, with many Americans strongly on one side or the other, and lost in between are the many desperate illegal and legal immigrants it will affect. For international travelers who take time to get to know the local people in the places we visit, there’s an indelible human face on this crisis.

With an estimated 11 to 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S.—79 percent of them coming from Mexico and the rest of Latin America, according to the Pew Hispanic Center—and a national economy that depends on them for its labor force, there are no simple answers. But in light of the U.S. standing in the world and Europe’s troubled immigration policy, it is worth considering the comments of Fareed Zakaria, a naturalized U.S. citizen himself, in his Newsweek column, “To Become an American.”

“Beyond the purely economic issue...there is the much deeper one that defines America—to itself, to its immigrants and to the world,” he writes.

One way we travelers can contribute positively to the situation is to keep in mind the poverty that forces many immigrants to risk so much in leaving their families and homes in search of a better life. With Transitions Abroad’s regional focus on Latin America in this issue, I am thinking even more specifically of this area of the world. A Transitions Abroad and Planeta.com reader survey identified South America as the top travel destination for our readers. When we visit the communities of this region and of our neighbor Central America we have the chance to give back to the people by supporting their locally owned and operated tourism infrastructure, whether accommodations, transportation, eateries, or tours. Many of the articles in this issue’s Immersion Travel section (pages 22-37) are excellent models.

We can also show our Latino amigos—and friends we visit worldwide—respect by attempting to learn their language. Thankfully, language-learning is much easier than many of us remember from high school. There are a myriad of exciting new ways to learn and use languages, as well as proliferating technologies that allow novice and advanced bi- and multi-linguists to practice their skills in more flexible ways.

This issue’s language-learning resource section (page 40) includes reviews of mass-market courses, online materials, educational software, and language-learning aids. For anyone with an MP3 player, such as the ubiquitous iPod, the new possibilities for second language acquisition are many and growing. With their ability to condense data into small and easily transferable files, MP3s provide a new application for publishers to digitize language-learning textbooks and audio cassettes and CDs.

At the simple end of the spectrum students can listen to MP3 files while reading the corresponding material from the class textbook, but at the other end are increasingly interactive ideas. A March 2006 Associated Press article on Georgia College & State University’s iPod Initiative highlighted government professor Hank Edmondson’s use of iPods to supplement his course lectures. He makes language study programs available for download to the iPods of students in a 3-week study-abroad program he leads. During a visit to the Prado, he used his iPod’s voice recorder to make a 20-minute lecture on the museum’s artwork for his students, so that they could use their time exploring the museum rather than listening to him talk.

The use of new technology for language learning is of critical national importance. For the U.S. to remain competitive in the global economy and in world affairs we must embrace whatever new methods help us expand our knowledge of countries, cultures, and languages—especially those less commonly taught.

Of course, no matter how advanced and stimulating language-learning technology becomes, nothing beats the impact of immersion travel abroad. Through conversations with host-nationals—ideally in the context of a homestay—we not only increase our language skills rapidly, we also forge friendships and gain knowledge and understanding of the local culture.

Sherry Schwarz

Transitions Abroad

Publisher and Editor
Sherry Schwarz
Founding Editor and Publisher
Dr. Clay A. Hubbs
Web Content Editor
Gregory Hubbs
Design
Nashima Gokani
Advertising Manager
Kate McGrail
Office Manager
Patricia Bolognani
Editorial Assistant
Jessica Hayden
Intern
Victoria Churchill

Contributing Editors

David Clemmons (Voluntourism)
J. Mara DelliPriscoli (Lifelong Learning)
Alison Gardner (Senior Travel)
Karl Haigler and Rae Nelson (Gap Year)
Bill Mohan (Teen Travel)
Cynthia Harriman (Family Travel)
Deborah McLaren (Responsible Travel )
Edward Trimnell (Language Immersion)
Kathy Widing (Travel Books)
Michele Scheib (Disability Travel)
Rick Steves (Budget Travel)
Rob Sangster (Independent Travel)
Ron Mader (Ecotourism and Latin America)
Susan Griffith (Work Abroad )
Volker Poelzl (Living Abroad)
William Nolting (International Education and Work)
Zahara Heckscher (Volunteering Abroad)

On The Cover
Barbaria La Paz, Guatemala. Photo by Jim Kane.

Jim Kane is president and founder of Culture Xplorers. You can learn more about Culture Xplorers at www.culturexplorers.com.

Mission Statement
Founded in 1977, Transitions Abroad is the only publication dedicated to work, study, living, and immersion travel abroad. Its purpose is the dissemination of practical information leading to a greater understanding of other cultures through direct participation in the daily life of the host community.