Presenting: Jorge Torres from the CETLALIC Alternative Language School – Learning Spanish with Social, Political and Cultural Awareness

9. Please tell us about the excursions and cultural activities that you offer to your students.

Cultural activities are also offered throughout the week and include excursions, visits with native speakers from Mexico and Latin America, videos, and participation in local fiestas and other cultural events. We visit several museums in Mexico City, some archeological sites (like Teotihuacan in State of Mexico, Xochicalco and Teopanzolco in Morelos; we go to colonial towns like Taxco (silver capital in Guerrero State, Mexico), Puebla, and we also take the students to beautiful small towns near by, like Tepoztlan and Tlayacapan.

10. You offer a variety of special programs in your school. Please tell us about your special programs for healthcare workers, educators and ministers.

For present and future healthcare workers looking for better understanding with the Hispanic population and for all interested in health issues and terminology.
This 3-week program is meant for all those who work in healthcare: nurses and family doctors as well as specialists and midwives. You will learn about the healthcare system in Mexico and about the way workers are organized. We will talk about social and cultural issues like health and human rights, health and spirituality, birth control methods, working with contagious illnesses, speaking with Latino patients, talking about domestic violence, the place of elderly or handicapped people in our society among others.

Every week focuses on a special theme: traditional, institutional and alternative healthcare. You can subscribe one, two or three weeks of the program, depending to your needs and interests.
We highly recommend to take the three weeks so you improve your Spanish and have a deep understanding of the healthcare system.

12. Some of your special programs concentrate on social issues, such as the Mexican workers movement, social movements and popular resistance, multicultural and women’s issues. Please give us more information about those programs.

Cuernavaca and Chiapas.
In Mexico the multicultural society is a fact. For centuries different peoples have been living in the same country. But do they really live together? During a week-long stay in Cuernavaca and a travel program of another week, we learn about the different groups. We see the influence of the culture of the indigenous peoples on the culture of the mestizos and vice versa throughout history until today, but we learn also how other groups like Germans, Lebanese, Jews, Chinese, Spanish and Afromexicans integrate in Mexican society. We learn to know the cultural heritage of Aztecs, Nahua and other indigenous peoples and current Mexican conditions.

Multicultural Mexico includes:
– 1 week in Cuernavaca
Daily intensive Spanish language instruction with a schedule from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., Monday to Friday. Students are placed in classes at the appropriate skill level with a maximum of five students.
– The afternoon ‘práctica’ from 12:20 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, includes classes focusing on vocabulary of multicultural themes, culture, history and Zapatist movement, reading texts and discussing issues of interest for the theme of the program.
– On Tuesday and Thursday from 12:20 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. and on three moments during the week in the afternoon or evening, we visit organizations and invite people to come and tell about their experiences.
– 1 week travelling to Mexico City and Chiapas (San Cristóbal de las Casas and Palenque), visiting places of interest in order to learn about Mexico´s cultural heritage and current realities. We will spend 2 nights in an indigenous village to celebrate the uprising of January 1994.

CETLALIC – a language school with a swimming pool!

For present and future bilingual educators as well as all those who would like to gain the skills and knowledge necessary to better serve Spanish speakers in their classes. A 3 week program that includes intensive Spanish classes and a variety of cultural/educational activities such as weekend excursions, guest speakers, museum visits, roundtable discussions, encounters with local schools k-12+ and community groups, videos, etc.) and a homestay. Participants will increase their knowledge and understanding of Mexican educational system. School visits provide the opportunity to interact with students in Spanish, as well as to discuss subjects of mutual interest with teachers and administrators. Most program activities are in Spanish with English translations when necessary.

Throughout the program there will be Biblical reflections and devotions in Spanish so that students become familiar with the vocabulary related to ministry. Finally the program will culminate with a eucharistic celebration using El Libro de Liturgia y Cántico as the primary worship resource.

First week: The program begins in Mexico City. We explore the context in which we do ministry by seeing how the Mexican reality relates to the Latino immigrant experience in the United States. We will learn about Mexican history that has lead to the current situation as well as the impact of global economics. We will visit with organizations working in solidarity with campesinos, defending immigrant rights and creating alternative economic models for a more just and humane society.

Second week: The program moves to Cuernavaca known as the “city of the eternal spring” because of its favorable climate. It is also the place where the Christian Base Communities were born in Mexico. The CBC’s represent a movement of the “grassroots” church gathering in small groups primarily of the poor reflecting on Scripture as a means of organizing for better living conditions and a more equitable society. We begin learning about the history and formation of the CBC’s that can serve as a model for ministry within Latino communities in the U.S. We will dialog with priests and lay leaders who are active in the CBC’s as well as participate in a CBC meeting.

Third week: We see how the CBC’s provide a foundation for organizing in defense of human rights, environmental protection and fair trade practices. We will visit local community projects and hear from leaders active in these movements. We will begin to integrate the training to anticipate how this can be incorporated into our home settings.

Some of the CETLALIC team members, including my teacher Mario (2nd from left)

11. A variety of other special programs at your school focus on lesbians and gays. Please give us more information about these special programs.

I think we are the only language school in Mexico who provide and organize this kind of programs. We have three programs during the year for two and three weeks.

A 3 week program that includes intensive Spanish classes and a variety of cultural/educational activities (such as trips, speakers, discussions, encounters with local groups and artists, videos, etc.) and a gay/lesbian homestay.

Cost (US$ 1, 550) Includes full room (shared) and board in a gay homestay, 3 weeks of intensive Spanish instruction, educational materials, local excursions in Cuernavaca and one weekend in Mexico City to attend the Gay Pride March. Cost does not include round trip air fare to Mexico City. $ 100 deposit due at the time of application, refundable only in the unlikely event that CETLALIC cancels the program. Childcare available at a minimal extra cost.
Some of the activities we had last year were:
Lectures: – History of the Gay Movement in Mexico
– Cultural Differences
– Testimonies or Stories of Mexican Men
– Homosexuality and Spirituality (by the Metropolitan Church Minister in Cuernavaca)
Visits: – Robert Brady Museum in Cuernavaca
– Enoe Uranga (another open lesbian in Congress and who is proposing the Domestic Partnership Law)
– Tito Vasconcelos Drag Show
– Gay Cultural Month in Mexico City Activities
– Gay Pride March in Mexico City
– Gay Bars in Mexico City and Cuernavaca
– Plus socializing a lot with the Cuernavaca community!
Activities for the summer, autumn and winter will be very similar and we will add other upon interest of the participants.

My class (two co-students from Germany, Mario, I)

January 2007
For all women interested in studying Spanish while learning about Mexican culture, politics and economics through the lens of women’s experience and struggles for social justice. Study how women from various backgrounds (i.e. indigenous, students, workers) have been affected by neo-liberal model of globalization and the kinds of mobilizations they have initiated or participated in. Establish and strengthen links between women of different countries (whose lives in an increasing globalized world are more interrelated than ever) by sharing our respective struggles for justice and equality.

Talks, videos and visits with women and grassroots projects are scheduled during the afternoon. Themes will be approached “from below” by spending time with activist groups and with an orientation towards social change.
Topics may include:
NAFTA, globalization and “neo-liberalism” in Mexico as well as the independent labor movement and maquiladoras
Zapatismo and the struggles of indigenous women
Feminism, women’s health, alternative medicine, sexual and reproductive rights and the lesbian movement in Mexico
Alternative media and a visit to a women’s video collective
The 1999/2000 student movement and strike at UNAM (the National Autonomous University of Mexico)
Politics and the recent elections
Liberation Theology and Christian Base Communities
Globalization and the environment

Among other activities we will probably have visits to:
+ CIDHAL Women’s Centre in Cuernavaca
Their website is:
+ Frida Kahlo Museum and other places in Mexico City determined by availability and participant interest

For more information about CETLALIC’s special programs visit:

CETLALIC’s library and an interesting mural

13. Please tell us about your innovative 3×3 work-study opportunities.

Some people, some of them social activist or students, don´t have enough money to pay for our courses. We don’t give scholarships, but we help them with our 3×3 exchange program.


CETLALIC works together with grassroots organizations and others who are actively involved in their society, we strive to integrate intensive study of Spanish language with experiential cultural learning and analysis of current social and political issues. Our goal is to promote dialogue between Mexico and the people of other cultures, in order to reach that goal, we make the experience of every participant our concern. We welcome all people regardless of nationality, ethnic origin, race, gender, sexual preference, age, etc.

In this special program, the students pay registration fees, transport to Cuernavaca, room & board (about $US600.month in a private room with a Mexican family or US$400 in an apartment). In this work-study program, volunteers work for 3 hours a day (12:00 to 3:00 pm) while they receive 3 hours of Spanish language instruction in the morning. CETLALIC also assists with securing a tourist visa and accommodation. The program duration is between 5 and 12 weeks. For more information check this web page:×3.htm

14. Where do your students come from and what kind of experience are they looking for?

the most of them come from the USA, 80 %, 10 % from Canada, both parts, and the other 10% from Europe.

They are looking to learn Spanish, but also to know about Mexico and the people. Our students are really focused on learning and exchanging personal and social experiences. They are looking for a community with respect and tolerance.

Let me thank you, Jorge, for sharing your own personal story and information about your alternative language school. We wish you and your team at CETLALIC and all your students the very best and continued success with your efforts.

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