MFL: Year 7 Spanish Classes Visit Cantabria

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At the start of May, Bede’s Prep School’s Year 7 Spanish classes travelled to the seaside town of Commillas in northern Spain for an action-packed week of exciting activities, cultural immersion and modern foreign language learning.

On arrival, our first stop was a visit to local restaurant ‘Las Filippinas’. The food was, of course, absolutely delicious!

Our first full day in Comillas was a Bank Holiday, and the town bustled with energy as we strolled around, enjoying the cultural experience and beautiful architecture.  After a breakfast of croissants, hot chocolate milk and tostadas, we embarked on a fabulous treasure hunt that spanned two plazas in this ancient town. 

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The children were challenged to use their Spanish, and the help of the local people, in solving a series of puzzles. Well done to Maddie, Ayala, Matilda and Katie, all of whom demonstrated thoughtful problem-solving strategies.

Next on the itinerary was a visit to El Capricho, a beautiful building designed by the famous architect Gaudí, whose work is so much a feature of Barcelona. We learnt that Gaudí used the location of the sun to guide him as he designed rooms at El Capricho for use at different times in the day.

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We ate our lunch in the grounds of the Palacio Sobrellano Park and, as soon as we had finished eating, the children made full use of the apparatus, before buying ice creams from the local heladería. Twenty-one ice creams later, the tutti fruiti was voted favourite flavour!

On the following day, the group visited the beautiful old Town Hall in the central plaza. We learnt that it was originally designed for the purpose of teaching the people of Comillas Latin, but today’s purpose for it was to enable us to get to know a group of schoolchildren from Santander. 

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The children were divided into six groups and were soon immersed in an introductory dialogue that included simple questions and answers, such as 'What is your name?’ (¿Cómo te llamas?’)  and ‘How old are you?’ (¿Cuántos años tienes?). 

After a very welcome snack of bocadillo de tortilla, we transferred to a local dance studio to have a lesson in flamenco dancing. It was enormous fun and everyone expended a great deal of energy!

Having recovered from the passion of our flamenco dancing, the children directed their energies towards playing football and basketball with their new Spanish friends. On our return to the Town Hall, the pupils then collaborated in groups to write some presentations about the region of Cantabria. 

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The ultimate challenge was for the English children to present in Spanish and the Spanish children to present in English, and well done to Angus, Toby and Christian for earning the Best Presentation Award! 

To relax at the end of this busy day we headed for the beach for plates and plates of fish and chips as the sun went down over the water.

Day 3 started with a fine breakfast of ColaCao, croissant and cereal at Las Filippinas, after which the children set off for their lessons. The focus of the session was how to navigate the Cabárceno Wildlife Park, with the children also learning the names of the animals we were going to see. 

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The visit to Cabárceno was outstanding. A baby gorilla had been born at Cabárceno just two weeks before out visit, and this exciting development, combined with a journey in a glass bottom cable car across the park, enabled us to see animals such as zebras, bears, tigers, ostriches, hippopotamuses, giraffes and gazelle, all of which were roaming in semi-freedom in this ancient Roman iron mine.

After the Park, we visited the Santander Shopping Centre and experienced our first churro and chocolate dip. The children practised their Spanish when purchasing items from the shop, and everyone ended the day having had a terrific time.

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On the following day, the children were presented with an opportunity to really immerse themselves in the cultural heritage of the region with a visit to Comillas’ 300 year old Town Hall. After this, they enjoyed a tour of the replicas to the prehistoric caves of Altamira and lost themselves in the experience!

The pupils learned about ancient ways of surviving, how prehistoric peoples made fire for light, warmth and cooking, and how they nourished themselves through their hunting and gathering. Best of all, they witnessed the fascinating recordings of a genius artist from twenty thousand years ago, who used the lumps and bumps in the cave ceiling to bring images of bison, horses and antelopes to life.

We then spent our final day in Bilbao, during which we visited the iconic Guggenheim Museum and its enormous ‘A Matter of Time’ installation that bends both sound and space for the explorer.

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We were also extraordinarily lucky to see Jackson Pollock’s Mural, a world famous piece in a temporary exhibition, which one of the children described as a ‘spiritual’ experience!

Overall, the children were outstanding ambassadors for the School and evidently learned a huge amount. Some even described the slight ‘culture shock’ of coming home and suddenly having to speak English, which would seem to suggest that the objective of the week was met with aplomb!

 

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