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Kirsten evaluates her experience with 4 year old Marina and gives advice to future volunteers

Thanks to Kirstin Allison for this evaluation of her experience working with 4 year old Marina last semester. Marina is deaf but speaks and hears thanks to her cochlear implant.


Meet Kirstin: Soy de Tejas en los EEUU, y estudio en la Universidad de Baylor y este semestre en Madrid en Saint Louis University.  Está en su tercer año de la carrera de Logopedia y Español. Su nivel de español es medio. Kirstin tiene un interés especial en los niños pequeños. Soy una persona extrovertido y graciosa. Me encanta ayudar a las personas y soy apasionada sobre las lenguas y sobre trabajar con otras personas. Le gusta Películas, leer, viajar, Quiero ser logopedia, y el semestre pasado tenía la oportunidad de ayudar una mujer de China con su articulación y pronunciación porque ella estaba tratante de aprender ingles. Me encantaba la experiencia y creo que va a ser una experiencia buena. También estoy tratando de aprender español, entonces estoy emocionada de conocer otras personas de Madrid. Trabajé como consejera del campamento de verano el verano pasado por seis semanas, y trabajé con niños de 6 a 13 años. También, trabajé como un voluntaria el semestre pasado y ayudaba una mujer quien estaba tratando de aprender ingles; practicamos la articulación y pronunciación. Su nivel de español es avanzado.

img_7743“Volunteering with t-oigo has been an incredible experience. As a student with the aim of attending graduate school for Speech-Language Pathology, utilizing various language-elicitation techniques that I have learned in my undergraduate courses has been beneficial, and I have enjoyed seeing what I have learned in the classroom come to life in my weekly sessions. Additionally, I am a Spanish major, so I am thankful for the opportunities I have had to practice my Spanish in the sessions as well.  It has been both a challenging and rewarding experience, and the opportunity to meet a local family and volunteer in an area that I am passionate about has been a highlight of my semester in Madrid.

Specifically, a normal session consists of working on a variety of language elements, including building vocabulary, improving articulation, and practicing spelling, through play. Marina chooses what she would like to play with, and I utilize her decision as a platform to teach English. In fact, this approach tends to work well since she is interested and focused because she chose the activity. Some days we play with shopping lists and food cards, so I take the opportunity to practice counting and articulation by annunciating challenging words clearly for her to repeat. If needed, I give her further directions in order to achieve the correct sound. On other days, we play with letters and practice articulation and spelling through the letters and the various words we form. Finally, in order to encourage her to speak, I often place the objects of play in an unusual order, a technique I learned in my undergraduate courses. For example, when playing with Mr. Potato Head, I put the different parts of the face in the incorrect location, and it always results in increased speech. Regardless of the specific activity, I aim to encourage her to speak English to the best of her ability.

The idea and structure of the program is beneficial for both the volunteers and the kids. Individualized attention in a comfortable environment helps the child to learn more easily, and the consistent schedule aids their learning as well. The consistency also helps the volunteers to form a relationship with the child so that they can approach learning English with a more positive attitude. Overall, I am thankful for my experience with the program and for the opportunities it gives to both students and children.

Personally, I did not think there was a noticeable difference in working with a child with hearing loss since she could hear me well with the device that she uses. Therefore the experience emphasized that while children with hearing loss may have an additional obstacle, they also have the same abilities and potential of children that can hear well.


The first is not so much advice but rather a recommendation. Please make sure the next volunteer has a good understanding of Spanish. I am not fluent in the language, but I have been taking Spanish for 7 years, and my Spanish was absolutely necessary since she only spoke to me in Spanish.

Secondly, be patient with her and try to not be discouraged if she does not speak in English with you immediately. Try and look for specific situations where you can ask her to speak in English because she has the ability to do so. Matching games are perfect opportunities for this.

Lastly, speak very clearly and not too fast with her. She will understand you better this way, and because she is young, hearing English clearly will help her to learn the language even if it is not obvious to you. So again, she is improving simply by listening to you even if she is speaking in Spanish.

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