I experienced remarkable growth throughout my four years studying Spanish at Drake University. I entered my first Spanish class in a timid manner, lacking confidence regarding my all around potential as a Spanish student. The result of four years committed to Spanish learning left me feeling competent, capable, and determined to continue improving and learning Spanish for the rest of my life.
Speaking is the element in which I feel I have made remarkable progress in. I went in to Spanish classes freshman year and early sophomore year hoping that I would not get called on. I diligently rehearsed well in advance the few sentences I may have to utter in class regarding an assignment or interactions staged with classmates for the purpose of speaking practice.
My study abroad experience at la Universidad de Málaga was truly the first time I had ever truly extended beyond my comfort zone in terms of language development. Truly, Málaga was a challenge which daunted me. I heavily relied on my other American classmates who spoke Spanish at a much more advanced level. It was too easy to get by without speaking much, as most of my classes were with other students in my program from colleges across the United States.
This experience taught me that I must challenge myself to get outside my comfort zone and try harder to speak.
Through my time in class when professors gradually decreased their use of English, studying abroad when my Spanish teacher spoke no English at all, making Spanish-speaking friends at intercambios de idiomas, listening to music in Spanish, and watching movies to help me try to pick up new dialects.
Dialects and accents still challenge me in listening. In my experience traveling to Spain three times, I noted that each visit left me feeling more confident in my understanding of the Spanish people due to my familiarity with the accents from the north and south.
My professors really challenged us to interact with a variety of accents, which has made my listening ability stronger.
My Spanish classes have left me far more culturally competent. Initially, I just knew vague geographical tidbits about some Latin American countries, and some general cultural facts regarding style of dress or food eaten. The Drake curriculum challenged me to learn more in depth about cultural nuances and how demographics within Spanish-speaking countries interact.
I now better understand how Spanish-speaking countries differ culturally. I studied Latin-American and Spanish culture through the lenses of business, healthcare, and film.
My reading ability has improved significantly throughout the past four years studying at Drake University. My vocabulary has expanded and my grammar has improved, so I can understand more complex texts. I particularly appreciate my Spanish for Business, Spanish for Healthcare, and Spanish for Film classes for helping me improve my reading skills.
At the beginning of my Spanish for Film class, I tended to rely on subtitles to better understand the actors whose accents I was unfamiliar with. This was beneficial for my reading skills, because it allowed me to hear how the words sounded as I was reading.
I also appreciated the vocabulary expansion opportunities offered specific to the field of business and the healthcare field. This left me feeling like a more well-rounded student who is capable of reading content beyond my field of study.
My writing ability in Spanish has also improved drastically. I still feel that I have a lot of room for improvement in this category, but I feel much more confident in my grammar usage. At the beginning of my time in college, I struggled with even simple tenses. Now I feel at ease when transitioning between various tenses and can quickly and effortlessly recognize when to do so.