Katie works with youth in the Denver community, where she often finds herself in need of a higher level of Spanish to communicate effectively. This led her to Spanish classes at Bridge, in Denver, where she is working on improving the basic skills she acquired when she was younger. Katie told us how she chose Bridge, what she likes about the classes she’s taking, and what has been most challenging for her as language learner.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, such as where you’re from and what you do?
I am originally from Denver. I was born and raised here until I was about 21. I have lived in a number of places around the nation and for half a year in Spain!
I graduated from college with a degree in Sociology and Social Change. Currently I am an AmeriCorps member serving with an amazing non-profit called Colorado Youth for a Change (CYC). I work with students from Denver Public Schools (DPS) who have reached the age of 21 and have not yet completed their GED or Diploma and thus have “aged-out” of DPS. I help them with their next steps in finding the best high school equivalency classes or whatever next step they need. This all revolves around setting youth up for success, despite the different obstacles that come up, so they may follow their educational goals.
What made you decide to study Spanish?
I have been in the process of studying Spanish for most of my life, although, thus far it has not been all that successful. When I was little my parents put a lot of emphasis on travel and learning the local dialect. As a child I did not recognize the importance of what they were talking about. As I grow older, the importance of learning Spanish is even more direct.
Since I work with youth in the Denver community, and there is a high rate of Spanish speakers or ESL students, it is now vital that I am able to communicate with the students and families that I work with. I also continue to travel extensively and my desire to speak with locals strengthens my decision to study Spanish at Bridge Language School.
What are your learning goals? What would you like to achieve?
My learning goals with Spanish are to be able to have concrete and productive conversations with the individuals I work with and their families. It is very important to me to put in the time and energy to learn Spanish in a country where, for so many people, that is their primary language. My goals are there to help shape me into a more well rounded individual in my community and abroad.
Describe the classroom environment.
I honestly couldn’t imagine a better classroom environment than the one I have found at Bridge. Before I began my studies here I sat in on different classes all around the Denver Metro area. This program stood out to me because they had incredibly small class sizes which makes it possible to learn at a structured yet flexible pace.
My teacher, Claudia, has done an incredible job of creating a classroom setting that is fun and engaging. We are constantly exploring the language outside of the textbook. This gives me the opportunity to have a much more personalized experience while getting to know the interests and educational desires of my classmates. We are constantly laughing and talking about all sorts of topics, in Spanish of course!
What are some of your favorite activities in class?
My favorite activities in class are the conversations we have. This really helps me to practice my Spanish in a real way. We have also spent time learning about different trips our classmates and teacher have gone on! A great way to learn about adventure opportunities and pick up new words in Spanish.
What is your biggest challenge in learning a new language?
For me, understanding people when they are speaking Spanish is by far my biggest challenge in learning a new language. As I have stated, the conversations we have in class help me with this a great deal. Our teacher has also given us tarea (homework) of memorizing a favorite song in Spanish, which means listening to it over and over and over again. This model of repetition has put me in a place where I can not only sing along with Enrique Iglesias, but I can also understand what he’s saying.
For you, what is the biggest advantage in learning a new language?
The biggest advantage of learning a new language is all of the doors that are unlocked. Already, I am able to communicate in Spanish with the wait staff at my favorite restaurants. I can have conversations with my students’ parents that end with an answer and a laugh instead of frustration from both sides. Learning a language is extremely important to me and something we do not emphasis enough in our society. I am so happy I found Bridge and a class where I can actively see my Spanish improving.
If you’re ready to learn a new language, like Katy, Bridge offers Spanish and other foreign language classes in Denver, including Russian, Japanese, Mandarin, French, Italian, Portuguese, German, and Arabic.