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Students Learn Spanish with Locals? ꜟSi!

Immersion Program Accepting Applicants for Summer 2014

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Kenia Giron, left, and Sarah Pacht studied at the University of Cadiz through the new Intensive Spanish Language Program.

By Julia Gavin

The University’s new Intensive Spanish Language Program helped ten students travel to Cadiz, Spain this summer for three weeks of learning, exploring and making memories to last a lifetime.

“I was learning without realizing it,” says Sarah Pacht, a junior journalism major who wanted to free up time in the regular semester by taking a summer class. “If we wanted to interact with our host family or someone in a store, we had to use Spanish. That really made us learn the language quickly.”

Rishi Vangapalli, a senior psychology student, also wanted to fulfill some language requirements and heard cultural immersion was the best way, so he packed up and flew to Cadiz.

“I was nervous that it would be a strict schedule and we wouldn’t be able to see the area, but turned out to be the opposite,” says Vangapalli.

The students met for four hours of class four days a week with minimal English spoken. 

“When I met my host mother she was speaking to me for five minutes, stopped, and said, ‘No understand Spanish?’” Vangapalli says. “By the end of the class I could ask her about laundry or what was for dinner. It really forced us out of our comfort zones.” 

While students were hesitant to speak a new language in front of each other, they  soon realized that everyone else was feeling the same way and became closer through the experience. Pacht says the instructors wanted the class to do well and used keywords and visual cues to explain difficult concepts. Several students have declared a Spanish minor since returning from Spain.

After classes and homework, the students were free to explore the city or travel beyond its borders. Each day brought new adventures and cultural context for the language. While Vangapalli had fun times visiting Seville and “winged it” on a trip to Madrid, Pacht stayed in Cadiz and got to know the city more.

“Even after three weeks of exploring the city, there was still more to do,” says Pacht. “It’s a tourist city, so most people know how to communicate with people who don’t speak the language well.”

The program will send more students to Spain in summer of 2014 and both Vangapalli and Pacht fully recommend it to others. Vangapalli summed up their advice to students nervous about enrolling.

“You won’t wake up some day and say, ‘I regret spending three weeks in Spain learning a new language and exploring the country.’”

Enrolling for Summer 2014 

Students can complete up to four semesters of Spanish language requirements in just three to six weeks through the intensive program. Students can elect to take session one to complete Spanish I & II, or session two to complete Spanish III & IV, or both sessions for the full six week program. By living with a local family, attending classes, attending cultural immersion activities and taking advantage of the University of Cadiz resources, students can increase their language skills substantially. Interested students can apply online through the Office of Study Abroad & International Experience.