Language School and Institute in Cuernavaca

September 25, 2007

A NACLA staff member has recently returned from Cuernavaca, an a-typical Mexican town (with one of the highest per capita percentages of swimming pools in the world) which contains an excellent language school. The Center of Intercultural Formation (CIF), run in conjunction with the Intercultural Center of Documentation (CIDOC) by Msgr. Ivan Illich and his staff, offers courses in the Spanish language which use the U.S. Foreign Service Institute method and text. Ordinarily, students attend three hours of classes five or six days a week in groups of not more than four. Teachers of these classes, generally very competent in conveying the concepts and tools necessary to learning fluent Spanish, rotate from week to week so that students benefit from the personalities, manners of speaking and special skills of many teachers. In addition, daily attendance at carefully prepared 50-minute "briefings" on grammar and syntax is expected. Another part of the program calls for a minimum of 50 minutes a day in the well-equipped language laboratory where instructors monitor participants' responses to the special tapes prepared by the Center. New courses begin the first Monday of each month; diligent beginners can establish a good working knowledge of the language in one month but a minimum of two months is suggested for those who are really serious about grasping a few of the more complex forms and retaining the material that is presented (voluntary practice is essential). In addition to the $25 registration fee (payable only once), tuition runs $115 per month.

Concurrent with the language program, CIDOC, which maintains a library on cultural and social subjects and is particularly strong on church literature, offers (at $55/month) lecture cycles on Latin American social and institutional problems as well as access to its library. CIDOC publishes two types of special reports: 1) SONDEOS-A series of studies of religious phenomena in Latin America in their relation to social, economic and cultural change and development. Five such studies are published each year and are available on a subscription basis. Those published thus far include a collection of the writings of Camilo Torres (no. 5) and Brasil: Duas Geragoes de Cristaos, documents on the process of realization of the new Catholic student left in Brazil from 1960 to 1964; 2) CIDOC DOSSIERS- documents on the role of ideologies in social change in Latin America. Each dossier deals with a particular ideological controversy that has occurred since 1950.

The center was originally conceived to prepare Catholic missionaries going to Latin America (and to mute the more blatant aspects of paternalism). Now more secular in character, it also solicits and gets as students North American businessmen, technical assistance personnel and others. The Center sees itself as a vehicle for dialogue among diverse individuals. Although it attempts to maintain a progressive appearance, it remains officially neutral about such questions as U.S. business domination abroad and the hard-core problems of imperialism in general.

Those interested in catalogues (describing, among other things, the Center's Institute for Contemporary Latin American Studies, which will offer summer courses on "Changing Institutions in Latin America") and more information should write to: Centro Intercultural de Documentacion, Apartado 479, Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico.


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