Living the Language
November 11, 2014
Blogger: Claudia Dumpson
One of my main reasons for studying abroad in Madrid, Spain was to gain more fluency in the language. I’ve been taking Spanish classes since 7th grade but my level of Spanish had plateaud and I knew that living in a Spanish-speaking country would be the only way to remedy that.
I was right. It’s been said before and I’ll say it again - the only way to truly know a language is to live in it. Being surrounded by Spanish has been one of the hardest yet most rewarding things about being abroad.
When I say surrounded, I mean it. Madrid has its fair share of tourists, but less than many major European countries, so most people working in restaurants, shops and bars know little to no English. All of my classes are taught in Spanish and my host family speaks no English. I’m also part of two exchanges or “intercambios” with Spanish college students where we meet twice a week to practice Spanish for me, and English for them. The only times when I speak English are when talking to my American friends in my program but this week, I’ll be receiving a bracelet that means I can only speak Spanish when I’m at the IES center.
Besides the occasional slip up, I’ve found my Spanish has vastly improved. I can understand difficult Madrileño accents, use slang, and have even made Spanish friends. I even know how to make paella! Not language related, but still a feat.
With one month left abroad (AH!), I hope to improve even more. Thanks to the International Programs Office (IPO), I chose a program that really focuses on language development for students who are already familiar with the language. However, even if you don’t know another language, studying abroad is a great way to learn one.