Spain #11: Speaking The Language

Grace Russell ’21 reflects on the patience and encouragement she has received from the Cadiz community while trying to improve her Spanish speaking abilities.

Moments after stepping off the plane in Jerez after a long night of traveling, was when our group first met the incredible Juan. After helping us carry our bags to our bus he continued to introduce himself to our fatigued group. Despite our tiredness we all immediately appreciated his comforting demeanor and patience. Since this day, Juan has traveled with our group to Wakana, and then to Cádiz where he has shown us just about every corner of the city.

To our group Juan is so much more than just a tour guide. Juan is always tolerant of our many mistakes while conversing but always speaks to us as he would other fluent Spanish speakers. He never underestimates our potential and is always willing to have more profound and personal conversations with us, even if it takes us a little longer to compile our thoughts in Spanish. As those who are still working on mastering this language, this is very encouraging. Just yesterday during our afternoon excursion to a town nearby, Rota, Juan told our group that he could tell that we were transitioning between walking and running in our Spanish speaking journey.

Ellie Shilling ’21 (left), Grace Russell ’21 (right)

In the subsequent days to our departure for this trip I was definitely nervous and doubtful about my Spanish speaking abilities and was worried about my competence when it came to communicating with the Cádiz natives. This worry now seems foolish as everyone we have met here has been patient and encouraging of my hope to improve my proficiency of this new language. Over the past two weeks here all of our teachers in our school, including Juan, our host families, and the locals we have encountered in our daily life, have helped me overcome my worries of making mistakes and taught me that the best way to improve my Spanish, is to just speak.

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