Categorized | Ongoing Programs

One World/Two Languages Celebrates 5 Years! Become a Host and Make a Difference


Enrich your life while enriching the life of an UADY student

Orientation Session / Hosts and Students Meet:
November 17th, 2018 at 1:30 pm at the library


UADY (Universidad Autonoma de Yucatan) students in their second year of university training to become English teachers have the opportunity to participate in the joint MEL/UADY program, spending 20 hours over several months in a rich cultural and language exchange with native English speakers.

Students attending UADY, a public university, are often the first in their families to attend a university. They generally attend school Monday through Friday and live at home with their families. Some may be from areas around Merida and may live with friends or other family members in Merida while studying.

Only a few of these students have the opportunity or means to study abroad and be immersed in a native speaker environment.

Several years ago MEL was approached to provide students with a cultural and language experience for approximately 30 students in their second year of English teacher preparation.

Two UADY students are paired with a native speaker or speakers( host). Most of the students have Saturdays free to spend time with native speakers, but other mutual times can be arranged.

A great deal of flexibility is built into the program. The students must have 20 contact hours  over a 4 month time period with their hosts. The 20 hours can be arranged in many different ways: shopping together, playing games together, cooking together,  going to museums, attending cultural events together…the choices are yours and the students. The students are responsible for keeping a journal with reflections on language and culture.

The students have signed permission slips from their family. Prior to starting the 20 contact hours, there is a meeting at MEL with Luz Maria Viera, UADY professor, who will answer any questions or concerns.

This is a great opportunity to help in our community, and a great opportunity for you to have meaningful contact with young people in the community.

HOST REQUIREMENTS: This is the 5th year of the program and we have learned each year and want to avoid any disappointments for hosts and students, so we have tried to be as upfront as possible about requirements for participation.

Transportation. Very few students have cars. They will be using buses. We have found that it is difficult for meetings to take place if native speakers do not have transportation. It is not impossible, but is more challenging. If you do not have transportation, plan on meeting students in the center of Merida.
Flexibility. Many students have outside work and family obligations that they must take care of and which may take priority over meeting with you on a particular day. Hosts must understand this. If students miss because of lack of commitment to the program, that will be handled by UADY. But if they miss because of things beyond their control, hosts must be flexible and understanding.
Location. Almost all of the students live in Merida. They cannot get to places outside of Merida to meet with you. Unfortunately folks who live on the beach or in other communities outside of Merida will not be able to host students.
Cost. If you choose to take a student to an event like the symphony, you will have to pay the students’ costs for the tickets, lunch after etc. Students will pay their own bus fare to meet you.
Language. Students must speak English.
Safety. No smoking, alcohol, or drugs. Many students do not know how to swim. Caution must be exercised around pools. Students should not spend the night at your home.
Topics such as politics and religion should be avoided when spending time with your students.

The program will begin in November and extend for 5 months. If you are arriving after mid November and only staying for a month or two, participation will not be possible.

Interested MEL members please contact Martha Lindley or Deborah Thompson for more information and to sign up to host students.

Reflections from a One World/Two Languages Host Family

For the past four years, my husband Jack and I have participated in The MEL/UADY English language hosting program.  The students we have hosted have come from many parts of the peninsula, many socio-economic backgrounds but all had two things in common, fair to excellent English and a curiosity about the world.

From each of our diverse students we have learned many things, from what it’s like to reacquaint yourself with your father after he has been working in the US for 17 years, to the traditional dance with a pig’s head still practiced in the central part of the peninsula.  We have been invited to students’ homes for traditional meals, met their families, attended a traditional equestrian event, a form of dancing with horses, with the family of one our students.

The students are open to any activity, picnics, art exhibits or just sitting around talking.  Jack and I love food so many times we built our time around a lunch the students help prepare and after lunch conversation.  We take a few minutes before each session to think of topics we might discuss with the students but generally the conversation just flows.

The program has been satisfying, easy, fun and a chance to meet and talk with some lovely Yucatecan  young people.

Catherine Rael and Jack Robinson

Letter From a Student Participant
(Now a Teacher!)

My name is Elizabeth Mezo. I am 22.  I studied ELT at Facultad de Educación, UADY.  Nowadays, I teach second grade and young adults. Although it has been a challenge to be with different groups, this experience has been amazing.

I remember that I got excited when I heard about the program Two Languages, One World because I found fascinating the idea of having the opportunity to meet and practice the language with a native speaker. I had amazing experiences with my host family. He was Canadian, which was wonderful because I had always wanted to visit Canada, and I thought it was going to be interesting to learn about him and his culture. He taught me about the language, slangs and we even made a comparison between the English language and the Spanish language. Moreover, we could visit the city. We went to different restaurants and even went downtown and saw “Noches de Leyenda”, where people tell about the history of the city and dress as if they were the characters of those stories. Additionally, he introduced me to one of his friends, so I could talk and learn from this person. It was great to have these experiences and I will always be thankful to him for all what he taught me.

Thanks to the program, I learned a lot about other culture, practiced the language and had a better understanding of how English works. In addition, I could improve my social skills. I have always found difficult to start a conversation. Nevertheless, I started feeling more confident while practicing with my host family. Although it was difficult at the beginning, it was helpful, not only to be able to communicate with other people but to improve as an English teacher.

Now that I am in-service English Teacher, I am putting in practice what I learned in the program. First, I am applying those social skills that I could develop while participating in the program. As an English Teacher, it is important to be able to communicate with students in order to know them better. This is helpful to plan better classes and make students’ learning more meaningful. Second, I can apply what I learned about the English language. I am more careful when explaining grammar or other language skills and I try to make my students aware of these characteristics that the English language has. I sometimes tell them the differences between English language and Spanish language, and I encourage them to keep practicing. If I could, I would even recommend them the program. It was a wonderful experience and a different way to learn about the language, the culture and to make new friends.

One World/Two Languages Gains International Recognition
A letter from LuzMaViera our UADY partner

Two Languages: One World/ Dos Idiomas un Mundo goes on…

Four years ago in 2014, Dr Julia Stewart ( Fulbright Scholar) and myself (College of Education academic member) designed the Program Two Languages: One World/ Dos Idiomas un Mundo.

The rationale behind this endeavor was and still is, to provide  sophomores enrolled in the B.Ed in ELT from the Universidad Autónoma de Yucatan (UADY) a way of compensating the low opportunity for these English student-teachers to study abroad in an English speaking country.

Thus, in Yucatan, this program with  the Merida English Library’s (MEL) support has created the only English language context here in Merida.

With this idea in mind undergrad-UADY students are paired up with MEL families who are willing to help them and share  their language, culture and life style. On the other hand, FEUADY students are invited to participate and make the most out of this chance; in other words, to enhance their language skills, sociocultural knowlege, attitudes and ethical values.

Moreover, tthis program increases opportunities for  the second year English Languages Teaching (ELT) students experience in first person the English speaking countires life style.

During these four years, we have noticed that the expectations have gone  beyond our initial ones. FEUADY students have crossed the bridge and link their host family and extended local family for lunch, for parties and even for their proms. These intercultural win-win relationships have meant a blending  of Language, Culture and Identity based on on  our  Adaptability, Respect and Tolerance (ART) motto.

Furthermore, this program has significantly changed the sociocultural views of 40 English pre-service teachers and 40 in-service ones.

As a result of this joint-venture and intercultural exchange between the MEL and FEUADY, I have been invited to present Two Languages: One World/ Dos Idiomas un Mundo in Puebla, Mexico at the Fulbright Conference this November.

I want to express my gratitude to all the MEL Community particularly to Martha and Deborah, all the participant families, Mr. C. Daniel Karnes and our Dean Julieta Guerrero Walker who from the very beginning have shown commitment and enthusiasm for this unique experience.

Thanks all, here we go for our fifth round!

Luz María Viera Castro
Program Coordinator,

One World/Two Languages founders in 2014: Prof. Julieta Guerrero, Dean of UADY Education School, Martha Lindley, MEL Board Member, Prof. LuzMa Viera Castro, UADY Program Coordinator, Deborah Thompson, former MEL Board Member, Dr. Julia Stewart, Fulbright Scholar
Interested MEL members please contact Martha Lindley or Deborah Thompson for more information and to sign up to host students.

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