Posted by: Michel Baker | August 3, 2010

Michele Whaley on the Ixtapa Conference

Here is what Michele Whaley, renowned TPRS Russian teacher in Alaska, has to say about the Carol Gaab-sponsored Ixtapa Conference this past summer.  She is right about the beauty and access to gurus, but the most amazing thing is what happened to her husband as a Spanish student!  Here it is, posted with her permission:

I had the most amazing time in Ixtapa with Carol Gaab.  Everyone who even thinks they might want to go should start saving for next year’s Club Med excursion with Carol right now.  Yeah, it’s expensive, ‘specially for us Alaskan types who have a long way to fly.  And it’s even more expensive when you add on a guest, because room rates are per person, not shared.  But let me tell you, those of you with beloved others should take them…it’s a great second honeymoon, or first, in the case of one couple who went!  If you go alone, the deal is spectacular, because the food and the place and the relaxation by themselves are worth it.

Add to that the amazing classes by people like Jason and Susie and Carol and Kristy and Scott and Leslie, and the access to any one of these superstars for the rest of the day.  Michel Baker made an appointment with Jason at dinner one night, so there she sat under the sea breezes on a patio overlooking the beach at a linen-covered table with free flowing wine, food, and desserts, writing down everything he said for probably three hours.  I know…I kept walking past their table and trying to listen because Michel had a very organized approach to asking and recording his answers.  (I did sit down a couple of times, driven to hear just a bit more, but mostly I behaved myself.)  [I was glad you came, Michele!!!  But, I do not know about being organized!]   Photos:

I got to talk with the fabulous Diana Noonan for some hours as we sat by the pool, and ask Carol questions whenever she alighted near me, and swim in the waves without thinking at all.  I learned a lot about relaxing in order to process information.  I loved NTPRS last summer, but I was “on” for about 20 hours a day.

At Carol’s conference, I had only about five hours of specific workshop time, and then the rest of the day in a beautiful place with no worries, where I could let things filter into my brain while I watched my guy on the trapeze or go ocean kayaking or just float in the sea. He took the opportunity to join yoga classes and play soccer every day.  It was absolutely the best week I’ve ever spent to include learning and pleasure while sharing it with my husband.

Attending the advanced workshop with Jason was more than I’d ever expected. He took what I’ve been learning these two years and ratcheted it up big time. Read Michel Baker’s July blogs on Ixtapa ( to get all her notes on our class. I’m so glad she posted them, because it means I don’t have to.  I think she wrote four different entries as the week progressed.

Having my husband along meant that by the last day, I was able to witness a question he asked Kristy at dinner one night (she was his Intermediate Spanish instructor):  “Do you really just talk to your students all day at high school the same way you talked with us?”   He mentioned that he knew that’s what I did, but hadn’t really believed it worked.  Later, I got to overhear him enthusing with another spouse, who’d been in the beginning Spanish class with Carol.  Both were commenting on how they learned more in one week than from years of language classes.  My guy said that he’d never really got the verbs down, but now he felt he had them.  The other father said that, next year, he was going to bring his fourteen-year-old along with him, because he knew that the kid would shoot ahead of his Spanish class if he had a week of CI with Carol.

My husband loves me, and he supports me in whatever crazy schemes I entertain, but he had never really “got” the whole TPRS/CI game.  Now he’s a believer, after just five morning classes with Kristy.  That alone would have been worth the price.


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