The Cultural Dimension


"The insights into culture alone are worth the price of admission."
-- From a former CIRIMEX student

In every program CIRIMEX also places a strong emphasis on the cultural dimension of language acquisition. The total immersion aspect is structured so as to maximize the cultural understanding and appreciation to be derived from the immersion. These views of uniquely Mexican environmental, historical and cultural aspects underscore variances between U.S. and Mexican realities.  

The students come to understand that knowledge of the culture of the speakers of a language is very necessary: first, because the thought patterns that underlie the grammar and the rhetoric of a language grow out of the speaker's and the listener's lived experience and life view - i.e. his culture. To speak another's language, one must translate his concepts not transliterate his words. Secondly, we keep in mind that the student, as a professional, is acquiring Spanish because he hopes to communicate with Spanish speaking persons about issues that often require precision of expression. He will need to know how his audience is thinking and feeling, what resonates with them, what moves them, what they value, what they reject, how they perceive and respond to life experiences - especially specific concepts or modes of expression. Without a comprehensive knowledge of the culture, little carefully-nuanced cross-cultural communication can take place. 

The cultural dimension of the CIRIMEX experience occupies most of the student's waking moments. It is generally experiential. It is simply the learning experience derived from total immersion situations, identified and confronted in an open, insightful and receptive manner. Part of the cultural program experiences take place on campus, many off campus. Some are deliberately planned, many just happen. As mentioned above, the home boarding provides a wonderful interactive background for observing and participating in Mexican daily life. This element cannot be, and ought not to be, completely programmed. Life is what it is and we simply deal with it on a day-to-day basis. 

In addition to basic personal needs such as three meals a day and a roof over one's head, the home boarding experience provides a safe and secure place to observe the scene, to participate, to test one's understanding of the Mexican attitudes, goals, purposes, intents, joys, sorrows, to observe how each one deals with the elements of his/her life, home, personal relationships, etc.  

Besides the cultural insights home boarding provides, CIRIMEX also offers a number of tours, outings and short trips through which the student can observe and experience first-hand, many facets of historical, political, industrial and commercial significance. CIRIMEX encourages students to experience, participate in, observe and interact with the Mexican scene whenever and wherever possible and to reflect upon and to share their views, observations and insights about the reality and their interaction with it. Guadalajara has much to offer here.