Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Student Reflection

by Alissa Dappas

Seniors in Spanish- What Now?

 As a volunteer at Leal Elementary School, I am fortunate to work with children while practicing my Spanish speaking skills.  As beneficial as this experience is, it wasn’t until I recently became involved with the RSO, Mi Pueblo, that I realized that I had not had a natural conversation in Spanish with anyone above the age of eight in quite some time.  Thanks to Mi Pueblo, I have been reintroduced to some Spanish words I had long forgotten and had the chance to have a relaxed chat with friends, making my Spanish flow in an easier and more relaxed way. 

As fun as my time with Mi Pueblo has been, my upcoming graduation has me worried about how I will maintain my Spanish skills after I have left the University of Illinois, a place full of opportunities to practice the language.  After searching around a bit, I’ve uncovered some ways I’ll be able to continue speaking Spanish.  To all of the seniors who are also studying Spanish, I have to ask- what are you going to do?  The Spanish we have studied over the years and the speaking level we have is such a valuable asset, you must be proactive in making sure that the language level you have worked so hard for does not plateau or decline after the college years are over.  We didn’t put in all of those hours with flashcards and study guides for nothing!

Below is a short list of things I can do after graduation in order to maintain or better my Spanish speaking ability and I hope that my fellow seniors also have an interest in one of these ideas.

Volunteer at a soup kitchen

 Many soup kitchens or food pantries need Spanish speakers!  Here, you can practice your Spanish while giving back to your community.

 Tutor on the side while I’m in graduate school

I tutored in high school and think this is an excellent way to keep up on grammar skills while helping future or current Spanish students. 

Join a conversation group 

When I researched different ideas about how to practice Spanish, this was one that came up a lot.  If you’re from an area around Chicago or close to any major city, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to find a local Spanish conversation group to practice with.

Listen to Spanish music  

While I was studying abroad in Costa Rica, I always listened to Spanish music and it really did help with my vocabulary and recognizing the sounds of different words. 

Try out some language apps

Because I’m constantly on my phone, I figure I might as well be productive.  Some friends of mine highly recommend Duolingo and it’s free! 

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