San Antonio Sabbatical

Posts Tagged ‘Spanish courses

Today’s post is a follow-up to my Mid-Semester Update.

This is final exam week at Our Lady of the Lake University.  On Monday evening the final exam was given in my lecture class (I went and looked at the exam, but didn’t have to take it since I’m an auditor).  Yesterday I attended the last session of my clinic practicum.  I have officially completed my two courses and will soon receive my OLLU transcript.  Before Monday’s class I picked up my letter from Joan Biever, Ph.D. (Professor and Chair, Psychology Graduate Programs) which documents my completion of a total of 90 clock hours (45 hours per course) of continuing education during this semester.  This is significantly more than required in order to maintain my psychologist license.

I have achieved my sabbatical goals of learning about counseling issues and strategies for working with the Hispanic/Latino population and improving my speaking ability with the Spanish language.  The two graduate-level courses I completed through OLLU’s Psychological Services for Spanish Speaking Populations (PSSSP) program were Language and Psychosocial Variables in Interviews and Assessments with Latinos (taught by Dr. Teresa Castaño, a.k.a. Classroom Professor in this blog) and a Spanish clinic team practicum at Community Counseling Service (supervised by Dr. Ezequiel Peña, a.k.a. Clinic Team Supervisor in this blog).  Additionally, I had weekly Spanish lessons at the SEFLA language school.  This educational activity was not part of my sabbatical proposal, but I found it to be extremely worthwhile as a supplement to my OLLU courses.  I met with Elvia Quijano for two hours per week for ten weeks for Advanced Conversational Spanish for which I received a grade of A+ as indicated on the diploma given to me by Clara Pérez Peláez, Director.  An unexpected and enjoyable professional development activity in which I participated was the National Latina/o Psychological Association conference that I attended last month (I earned 11 continuing education hours).  I wrote about this excellent conference experience in a previous post (English) and in a journal entry (Spanish).

For my Language and Psychosocial Variables in Interviews and Assessments with Latinos class, I kept a journal in which I reflected on issues and connected the readings and lecture topics to my own experiences.  This was a valuable exercise in which students were to document their personal and professional growth.  I’m a private person who normally wouldn’t share so much publicly in a blog, but I feel that it could be instructional to others and more clearly show my thoughts and feelings about my experiences and progress with the Spanish language.  So, here is the complete set of nine journal entries (in Spanish):

Journal Entry #1            Journal Entry #2            Journal Entry #3

Journal Entry #4            Journal Entry #5            Journal Entry #6

Journal Entry #7            Journal Entry #8            Journal Entry #9

In expanding my own education in the area of multicultural issues, I did some research and came across useful articles, videos, and books that can serve as resources and discussion prompts for others.  I posted several pieces about Hispanic/Latino culture which readers may find helpful.  Here are the eight cultural pieces:

Overall, I’ve had a great first sabbatical experience.  My classes and the NLPA conference were excellent!  Even though my main focus this semester in San Antonio, Texas was academic (it was a paid sabbatical leave, after all), I did manage to work on some writing projects — taking an online book proposal writing class, attending International Freelancers Day seminars, and writing this blog.  I also managed to have fun — joining social groups, eating at a variety of restaurants, going on tours, and doing leisure reading.  As you can see, I’ve been busy.  But it was a good kind of busy and a much needed break from my university job.  I am grateful to Bloomsburg University (my home institution) and Our Lady of the Lake University (my sabbatical site) for allowing me to pursue this personally enriching and professionally relevant sabbatical opportunity.  It has worked out extremely well, and I’m looking forward to future sabbaticals.


These past two months have gone by rather quickly.  My sabbatical is half over.  Our Lady of the Lake University students have been taking their mid-term exams and are on a fall break today and tomorrow.  So, this seems like a good time to review the goals of my sabbatical leave and assess my progress thus far.

As this is my first sabbatical, I didn’t quite know what to expect.  Sabbatical experiences differ greatly and my sabbatical project is a unique one.   The purpose of my sabbatical is to learn about counseling issues and strategies for working with the Hispanic/Latino population and to improve my speaking ability with the Spanish language.  The primary manner in which I am doing this is by taking two graduate-level psychology courses that are part of OLLU’s Psychological Services for Spanish Speaking Populations (PSSSP) certificate program.  A supplemental activity that I added one month into the semester is weekly Spanish lessons at SEFLA that I spoke about in a previous post.

My lecture class, Language and Psychosocial Variables in Interviews and Assessments with Latinos, is informative and engaging.  Our two textbooks provide lots of data about Hispanics/Latinos and special concerns affecting this population (for example, immigration issues and cultural values) and how these issues affect the counseling process.  Classroom Professor sparks interesting discussions and shares her related personal and professional experiences and encourages the class to share theirs.  By doing the assigned journal entries (see #1, #2, and #3), I have been able to reflect on these issues and more clearly connect the readings to my own experiences.  Furthermore, these journal entries have allowed me to practice my writing skills in Spanish.  The class is currently working on case studies which we will role play in groups at our next class meeting on Monday.  I expect that this activity will be very educational.

My practicum is a clinic placement at Community Counseling Service.  I am a member of the Tuesday Spanish Team.  This team consists of six therapists-in-training, two observers (including myself), and Clinic Team Supervisor.  Therapy sessions are conducted primarily in Spanish (sometimes the younger family members — the children — prefer English, so there may be a switching of languages during the session as all of the therapists and Clinic Team Supervisor are bilingual).  The cases are interesting and reflect a variety of common counseling issues.  The live supervision format (reflecting team) is a great teaching tool.  Although I don’t understand everything that is said, I get the main points and offer comments and support to the students on our “star team”.  This is a name we have given ourselves.  The team has bonded very well and the therapists-in-training have shown great clinical skill, a testament to their OLLU training.  Clinic Team Supervisor has a relaxed and supportive style which makes the learning environment comfortable and enjoyable.  At this week’s clinic meeting, prior to our client’s arrival we had our mid-semester reviews/check-ins (one-on-one meetings between each student and Clinic Team Supervisor followed by a sentimental group check-in with the entire team).  Everyone seems very pleased with the way things are going.  The team members complimented me on my participation and choice to spend my sabbatical leave at OLLU.  I really like this Spanish Clinic Team and the clients whom we are serving.

Elvia, my private language teacher at SEFLA, is doing a great job of engaging me in Spanish conversation.  We have had open discussions about a variety of topics, reviewed some grammar (preterite and imperfect verb tenses), reviewed exercises that I completed in the workbook, and played fun educational games (hangman and a guess-the-person-that-I-am-describing game).  At my request, we spent half of one lesson working on the language for my role play for Classroom Professor’s class.  I’m enjoying these extra lessons with Elvia.  She’s knowledgeable and fun.  Elvia likes working with me; she said that I am “a joy to teach”.  We’ve already completed four of our ten scheduled meetings.  She has invited me to her home so I’ll probably be visiting her soon.

One difficulty I’m having is doing my assignments without the aid of my Spanish reference books.  My parcel post package of books (which I mailed two months ago) never arrived.  The box was damaged in transit and its contents spilled out.  I’ve been working with my postmaster to try to recover these missing mail items from the Mail Recovery Center in Atlanta, Georgia and will probably file a claim for monetary reimbursement (the missing box was insured for $200).  I miss having my Spanish dictionary (I’ve been using Yahoo’s Babel Fish to look up words), verb conjugation book, and medical Spanish guide for psychologists.  Yesterday, I finally gave in and ordered duplicates of these books from so the remainder of the semester should go more smoothly once I have my trusted language tools.

I’m looking forward to attending my first National Latina/o Psychological Association conference next month in San Antonio.  It will be wonderful to hear many of the Latino-themed sessions, learn about current research in the field, and meet my fellow colleagues (in fact, one of my fellow interns from our University of California – Santa Barbara days will be one of the presenters).  OLLU, one of the NLPA conference co-sponsors, will be hosting special events — a reception, student poster session, and a reading — as well.  This should be a very good experience.

Part of the reason for having this blog is to share some useful resources with my readers.  Regarding issues of Hispanic/Latino culture, I have posted a few educational items.  Check these out:

Overall, I’m making very good progress towards my sabbatical goals.  I’m learning a lot and enjoying my time in San Antonio, Texas.

Yesterday at noon I had my first private Spanish lesson at Spanish, English and Foreign Languages for America, Inc. (SEFLA)SEFLA is a fairly new (since 2006) language school that is located less than three miles from my apartment.  I observed an intermediate level lectura class last Friday and took the placement exam.  Since there are currently no SEFLA group classes at my “Advanced” level, I registered for 20 hours of private lessons.  The usual cost is $620, but I received a 10% discount.  I will have one 2-hour lesson each week for 10 weeks and the lessons will focus mainly on conversation so that I can develop more confidence and comfort with speaking and understanding Spanish.  I requested Elvia as my teacher since I really liked her teaching style and personality when I observed her class last week.  Also, her voice is clear and she speaks slowly enough for me to understand her.  I understood the entire first part of Friday’s class, which was a discussion of a theatrical drama/play — El delantal blanco (The White Apron) by Sergio Vodanovic — followed by vocabulary and an alphabet game, and most of the second part which focused on a complex adventure novel, La reina del Sur (The Queen of the South) by Auturo Pérez-Reverte.

I was very happy to learn that I had been placed with Elvia.  We met for a little more than two hours and discussed my goals and preferences for textbooks and activities.  I emphasized my need for conversation practice with little interest in grammar exercises since I’ve had lots of grammar classes in the past.  I want to be able to have better casual discussions about a variety of issues.  These private lessons will supplement the professional Spanish training I am receiving at OLLU.  Elvia understood and was very accommodating.  This flexibility and custom-made course is a huge benefit of private lessons over a group class.  I have taken several group classes in the past.

The textbook I selected and purchased from SEFLA is Revista: Conversación sin barreras (Third Edition) by José A. Blanco (published by Vista Higher Learning, 2010).  It is similar to other intermediate-level textbooks I have used in the past.  It contains a variety of interesting topics for discussion.  Each of the six lessons contains a short film (cortometraje), grammar (estructuras), readings (lecturas), a comic strip (tira cómica), writing (composición), and a lively social activity (tertulia).  I will watch the short films at home via an Internet link and be prepared to discuss them at our lessons.  I will also select several exercises within each chapter to complete and review with Elvia.  Since my goal is to engage in conversation, our weekly agenda is rather loose.  There is no rigid lesson plan.  Elvia seems willing to discuss whatever topics are of interest to me.

Our first lesson together went very well.  The discussion was casual and comfortable.  We both understood each other and I learned a few new words (which Elvia wrote on the white board).  After covering my goals and deciding on a textbook, we did an exercise in Revista: Conversación sin barreras (Third Edition).  Then, we had an open discussion about our lives and our interests.  Elvia is from Nicaragua and has lived in the United States for over forty years; she is married.  Like me, she enjoys reading (especially mysteries).  I told her about the Meetup groups I attended for Spanish Language and Book Lovers, and the book clubs offered at the San Antonio Public Library.  I shared with her my background and told her about my OLLU courses.  We discussed places visited and good restaurants in San Antonio (I asked her for suggestions).  Elvia informed me that the class I observed (military students) graduated this morning after completing four weeks of intensive Spanish study.  At the end of today’s session, we exchanged contact information (e-mail addresses and telephone numbers) and changed our lesson time to 10:00 a.m. on Wednesdays.  I also expressed my pleasure with today’s session and thanked Elvia.  Overall, I felt really good about our interaction — we “clicked”.  I’m looking forward to our future meetings.  🙂

On the return home, I stopped by Las Palapas, a fast food Mexican restaurant.  Since it was raining, I went through the drive-thru and ordered the “Enchilada Plate” (two beef enchiladas without cheese, rice, refried beans, and two tortillas).  While it was not a fancy meal, it was good for quick, simple, take-out food.  I’m continuing to look for different restaurants to try.  San Antonio is known for its delicious and varied food choices.  I’d like to sample lots of them without breaking my budget or my waistline.

Summer is officially over.  Today is the first full day of fall.  Although here in Texas, I probably won’t see a huge change in the weather.  From what I’ve heard, the seasons here aren’t marked by significant climate changes.  It’s hot and humid all year.  I’m thankful that this week’s temperatures (in the high-80s) are ten degrees lower than those upon my arrival in San Antonio five weeks ago.

I’ve officially lived in San Antonio for one month.  Only three months left to go.  So far, so good.  I’m slowly venturing out to new areas.  This is a lot easier with my car, although I’ve gotten lost a few times on the huge Texas highways.  Getting lost is not uncommon for me since I have a poor sense of direction.  Thankfully, there are lots of labeled “turnarounds” for U-turns so I’ve always been able to find my way back home.

My OLLU classes are going well.  I like Classroom Professor and Clinic Team Supervisor, and am learning interesting things about Hispanic/Latino cultures.  Prior to Monday evening’s class, I settled my bill (my tuition discount had finally been applied) and got my vehicle tag so that I can park my car on campus.  I tried to get my student identification card but was told that the machine was out of ink, so I will try again the next time I’m on campus.  Then, right before class, one of my classmates invited me to join her group for drinks on the River Walk over the weekend.  Although I politely postponed my involvement for another time, I thanked her for inviting me.  It felt good to be included and I look forward to getting to know my classmates better.

I accomplished a few assorted tasks this past week such as:

  • (1)  Opening a savings account at a Texas bank in order to make it easier to get cash.
  • (2)  Trying a new restaurant.  I ordered a Chinese takeout lunch from Mencius’ Gourmet Hunan Restaurant located in the Medical Center area where I live.  Chinese food is not my favorite, but I enjoyed my meal of Lemon Chicken, fried rice, and an egg roll.  This restaurant was a lucky find for me.  I just happened to be in that shopping plaza and stopped in (it was crowded with diners); only later did I read their great food reviews online.
  • (3)  Attending the Thursday Book Club meeting (Sept. 16th from 12:00-2:00 p.m.) at the Cody Library of the San Antonio Public Library (which has 27 branches).  I had applied for and received a library card a week ago.  I learned that the Thursday Book Club would be discussing House Rules (a book about a boy with Asperger’s syndrome) by Jodi Picoult so I read the book and went to the meeting.  The group’s leader (Susan) introduced me to the group of about 20 bibliophiles (several of them are former teachers and librarians) and handed me a list of titles that will be discussed at future meetings of the Thursday Book Club.  We had a good discussion about House Rules.  Opinions about the book varied (I really liked this book).  I plan to return for next month’s meeting.
  • (4)  Watching Thursday evening’s season premiere of The Apprentice.  I enjoy television and this is one of my favorite shows.  (I wrote an award-winning poem about it a few years ago).  For this season, Donald Trump has selected victims of our bad economy to compete for a job with his company.  I really like this timely theme.
  • (5)  Turning in my first assignment for Jennifer Lawler’s six-week Write Your Book Proposal E-Course which started on September 13th.  I’m working on writing a self-help book and have heard many great things about Jennifer’s course.  Also on the topic of writing:  Last month I participated in a free teleclass offered by “Renegade WriterLinda Formichelli with featured speaker Kelly James-Enger talking about Six-Figure Freelancing.  I’m so happy to be able to spend more time on my writing this semester and to have found some wonderful role models.
  • (6)  Signing up for 20 hours of private Spanish lessons with a relatively new (2006) local language school — Spanish, English and Foreign Languages for America, Inc. (SEFLA).  The longer I’m here in Texas, the more I’m realizing I need additional practice with conversational Spanish and that taking a separate supplemental class — in addition to my two OLLU courses — would be helpful.  I found SEFLA online, did some research, and called and spoke with the director, Clara Pérez Peláez, on Thursday afternoon.  She invited me to come observe a 1½-hour class on Friday morning (This particular class is part of a special 4-week intensive course for military personnel).  So, yesterday I observed the class (this portion focused on reading — lectura) from 10:00-11:30 a.m. and I really liked it.  I liked the teacher (Elvia), her teaching style, and the written materials/texts used.  Afterwards, I took the written placement exam (40 multiple-choice questions) plus an oral exam administered by the director herself.  My score placed me at the advanced level (my problems were with the conditional and subjunctive verb tenses) and there were no group classes at this level being formed at the current time, so I was offered the more expensive, yet flexible, option of private lessons — which I accepted.  Even with the 10% discount I received, the cost is more than I wanted to spend.  But, it’s an investment in my professional development and I really need the lessons.  Someone will contact me once a teacher and time have been arranged (I put in a request for Elvia for Monday or Wednesday mornings so that I can keep the latter part of my week free).  It seems like I will be able to begin my lessons next week.  While at SEFLA, I purchased a copy of one of the paperback texts I saw being used in the classroom.  It’s called Streetwise Spanish: Speak and Understand Everyday Spanish (with Audio CD) by Mary McVey Gill and Brenda Wegmann and published by McGraw-Hill.

As you can see, I’ve had a busy few days.  I still have to do my reading homework for my class on Monday.

(Slightly Off Topic) — Congratulations to Spain’s top tennis player, Rafael Nadal.  On Monday, September 13th, Nadal won the U.S. Open, completing a rare career Grand Slam.  What an accomplishment!

School is now in session.  This is the first week of school for the local children; I’ve seen and heard several yellow school buses outside of my window.  Monday was also the start of the fall semester at Our Lady of the Lake University

I am auditing two graduate-level courses, (1) Language and Psychosocial Variables in Interviews and Assessments with Latinos (PSYC 8331) and (2) Practicum 1 (PSYC 8390) where I serve as an observer on the Spanish treatment team at OLLU’s Community Counseling Service.  My lecture class meets on Monday evenings from 6:00-8:45 p.m., and my clinic practicum meets on Tuesday afternoons from 1:00-5:00 p.m.  So, I’ve been to both classes already.  It looks like it will be an exciting semester.

My Language and Psychosocial Variables class has 12 students (including me), most of whom are Latino (not me; I’m African-American), and a very experienced Latina instructor/psychologist.  In this blog I will refer to her as Classroom Professor.  She provided an introduction to the course and background information on herself.  We were then asked to provide our own brief introductions in Spanish.  For example, I said, “Me llamo Sybil.  Soy psicologa…”  [There should be an accent mark over the first ‘o’ in ‘psicologa’, but I haven’t figured out how to insert these within the blog post.]  Classroom Professor then distributed and discussed the course syllabus.  An additional required textbook was listed.  It is Hispanics and the Future of America by the Committee on Transforming Our Common Destiny and the National Research Council and edited by Marta Tienda and Faith Mitchell (The National Academic Press, 2006).  I ordered the book from since their prices are often cheaper than those of bookstores.

This course has four student academic outcomes:

  • (1)  Increase awareness of the variables that impact service delivery. 
  • (2)  Explore methods and techniques for overcoming barriers to service delivery.
  • (3)  Increase ability to providing professional communication in Spanish.
  • (4)  Explore individual skills for conducting interviews, communicating technical information, and exploring assessment needs with Latino clients.

Although the class meets only once per week, there is plenty of work expected — assigned readings and discussions, interview role plays in Spanish, research paper and presentation, ongoing glossary and journal documenting awareness in personal/professional development, and a final exam.  The textbook readings are in English, but the class will be conducted primarily in Spanish and the oral and written assignments will be in Spanish.  The Instructor’s Manual is available online so I reviewed it prior to attending class in order to better understand the structure and goals of the course.  The challenge for me will be learning the technical terms that pertain to counseling.  I think I’m really going to like this class.

My clinic practicum has six students (all Latino I think, five of whom for which this is their first practicum) plus me and an experienced Latino faculty member/psychologist.  In this blog I will refer to him as Clinic Team Supervisor.  He described the requirements of the practicum and distributed a six-page handout on clinic procedures.  Clinic Team Supervisor had previously e-mailed the practicum students the complete Clinic Manual which I had read prior to attending yesterday’s clinic team meeting.  We then made introductions (in Spanish, of course) and mentioned our expectations for this practicum experience.  We had previously received a tour of this outpatient mental health facility.  Yesterday we received an explanation on how to prepare the necessary paperwork for documenting client sessions and payment.  Additionally, we were given a demonstration on how to use the TheraScribe computer software for writing case notes of client sessions.  (I’ve seen ads for TheraScribe in psychology publications but have never used it; I prefer to write my session notes by hand) .  Reminders were given about confidentiality and professional ethics. 

Given the population being served by the Community Counseling Service, the theoretical approach to training here is somewhat unique.  There is an emphasis on postmodern approaches to Spanish-Language psychotherapy and solution-oriented methods.  Student therapists, working in pairs, are encouraged to use a nondirective style and to refrain from forced interventions.  Instead, the clients are encouraged to focus on their strengths and discover their own remedies with the support of the therapists.  Initially, some time is spent on small talk (chit-chat) in order to put clients at ease and develop trust.  Live supervision is provided by the clinic team who is viewing the session on a video screen in a nearby room.  Clients have also consented to have the sessions recorded for training purposes.  The reflecting team approach with periodic consultations is familiar to me as it is how I was trained during graduate school twenty years ago. 

Two clients were seen during this first clinic team meeting, a couple with relationship problems and a male with depression.  The student therapists in training had good first sessions with their clients which we processed afterward as a team.  Clinic Team Supervisor has a supportive and comfortable supervision style.  I found that the clients and the team members spoke quickly and used some unfamiliar words so I gathered only bits and pieces of the conversation.  I certainly hope that my comprehension increases as the semester progresses.  This practicum is a nice complement to my lecture class and will allow for integration of theory and practice.  It will provide me with valuable experience.

Earlier this week I began reading The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow.  I saw the author on Oprah a couple of years ago and was inspired by his positive attitude and courage while dealing with his terminal illness.  It seemed appropriate to start the semester with Randy’s uplifting message of enjoying life and pursuing one’s dreams.  One of mine is to learn Spanish.  That is why I am here in San Antonio.

My box of books (sent via parcel post, the cheapest way to ship them) has still not arrived.  I’m hoping it arrives soon as it contains my Vox Compact Spanish and English Dictionary and Medical Spanish:  A Psychologist’s Guide by Craig Alan Sinkinson.  These items will be of great help to me as I attempt to translate words and sentences.

Finally, my car arrived last night at 9:30 p.m.  I’m happy and relieved.  Over the past week I’ve spent almost $200 on taxis (airport pickup plus three roundtrips to OLLU).  Taxis were cheaper than renting a car for the week (which I did during my July visit), but this mode of transportation came with limited flexibility and high inconvenience.  Now that I have my car, I have more freedom and can do the errands that need to be done — grocery store, bank, library, pharmacy, etc.  This afternoon I spent almost three hours at the grocery store (H.E.B. Foods is the big chain here) stocking up on a variety of items needed for setting up a home.  It’s great to have my car again and to now have a full refrigerator/freezer and pantry.

(Slightly Off Topic) —  During the semester I will continue to mention the recent accomplishments of Spanish speakers and their countries (e.g., World Cup, Dora the Explorer, etc.).  In particular, I will focus on those of Hispanics/Latinos as this is the population I am studying this semester.  Here’s a recent victory for Mexico.  Two nights ago the Miss Universe Pageant took place in Las Vegas, Nevada and Miss Mexico (Jimena Navarrete from Guadalajara) was crowned the winner.  This is a nice victory especially given all of the recent controversy in the United States regarding immigration issues (with an emphasis on Mexicans).  Congratulations, Miss Mexico!!!

I can speak some Spanish, but I’m not yet fluent.  Even after several years of study.  Speaking and understanding are the most difficult tasks for me; reading and writing are a bit easier.  My sabbatical courses will give me more practice and practical application with the Spanish language.

How much Spanish does it take to do a sabbatical project such as this?  For me, it took 7-1/2 years of intermittent language study to reach the required intermediate level for OLLU’s PSSSP courses.  Granted, if I had studied Spanish continuously and had spent a semester or year studying abroad while in college (which I really wanted to do but could not afford), then I would have reached this level a lot sooner and would probably be nearly fluent by now.  Despite my struggles with language — which are partly due to my relatively weak auditory sense (I’m a very visual person) — I enjoy learning Spanish.

To get a better idea of my experiences with Spanish and readiness for this sabbatical project, see the summary of my preparation below:

Preliminary study:   3 years of Spanish in high school plus 1 year of Intermediate Spanish in college

Recent study (after a break of almost twenty years):

Bloomsburg University courses: 

  •  12-209: Spanish for Social Services (Spring 2006)
  •  12-203: Spanish 3 (Fall 2006)
  •  12-207: Spanish Conversation and Composition 1 (Spring 2007)
  •  12-204: Spanish 4 (Fall 2007)
  •  12-206: Structure of the Spanish Language (Spring 2008)
  •  12-214: Hispanic Culture and Civilization (Fall 2008)
  •  12-402: Advanced Conversation (Spring 2010)

Study abroad (language immersion programs):

  • Summer 2005 – Sevilla and Barcelona, Spain (4 weeks) – CLIC and Enforex  [Transitions Abroad article]
  • Summer 2006 – Cuernavaca and Buenavista de Cuellar, Mexico (2 weeks) – Cemanahuac
  • Summer 2008 – Guanajuato, Mexico (2 weeks, “Medical Spanish” course) – don Quijote
  • Summer 2010 – Salamanca and Valencia, Spain (4 weeks) – don Quijote

Volunteer abroad:

American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) rating:

  • Intermediate Mid-Spanish  (based on an Oral Proficiency Interview in 2008)

In my opinion, nothing beats face-to-face language learning (e.g., in a classroom, study group, etc.), but other materials — texts, audiotapes, videos, computer software — can be a good supplement to formal classroom study.  I purchased the Rosetta Stone computer software (Latin American Spanish, Version 3) and completed Levels 4 and 5, the two highest levels, this year which took about 50 hours of study time.  As a visual learner, I found Rosetta Stone to be an excellent match for my needs.  Since it’s based on immersion in the target language, there are no translations or explanations.  While this might frustrate a pure beginner, my prior knowledge of Spanish helped a lot in knowing what was going on with respect to various verb tenses, irregularities, and phrasings.  The Rosetta Stone software, though expensive, was easy to use.  I liked how the lessons were broken down into manageable chunks with time estimates for completion of each section provided.  And, there’s a lot of repetition to solidify the learning.  I also liked the picture quality.  For example, the food pictures were so crisp and mouth-watering that I wanted to eat them.  Rosetta Stone is a great program and I can recommend it with confidence.  It aims to make people conversational in their desired language and it does this through the use of many fun, interactive, and challenging activities.  It’s important to keep in mind that there are many different language programs available and while Rosetta Stone helped me, it may not be right for everyone.  You need to assess your own learning style and goals and do your research.  For the record, I received no payment or special privileges from Rosetta Stone for writing this review.



Blog Stats

  • 3,295 hits