Being able to understand native Spanish speakers #BaseLangStories
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Meet Kim, a bilingual teacher from the United States who for years struggled to become a confident Spanish speaker – until she found our Real World program.
BaseLangStories series puts the spotlight on BaseLang students – asking them about their motivations for learning a foreign language, what impact learning Spanish has had on their lives, advice they have for fellow students, and more.
So, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Kim and I live in the United States.
Why did you want to learn Spanish?
I have always wanted to be bilingual. I’ve always thought that speaking more than one language was super cool. I chose Spanish because it is a beautiful language. The words have such a sweet sound when spoken. Also, it is very useful to speak Spanish in the United States with so many Spanish speakers. It makes you very marketable as a job candidate. Right now, I am using it in my job as a bilingual teacher. My students are native Spanish speakers with limited English proficiency. I have to teach in both languages. Quite honestly, one of my ultimate dream jobs is to be an interpreter.
In the past, what did you use to learn Spanish?
In the past I studied Spanish using various methods. After taking courses for a few years in high school and college, I wasn’t really able to speak the language. I knew some vocabulary and a couple of verb tenses. I paid private tutors to help me, studied grammar independently using textbooks, read books in Spanish, usually out loud, watched videos and listened to podcasts and music in the language. I even spent three weeks in Costa Rica and attended a Spanish school there. I also started a club for others trying to learn the language. We would meet every Saturday at a coffee shop to chat in Spanish. It was fun and helpful to get practice speaking, but there was no one there to correct our mistakes.
Before BaseLang, which part of Spanish did you struggle with the most?
Before BaseLang I had two major problems – my auditory comprehension skills and my confidence. I was very timid to speak with natives, especially in my job, which was not good. I was so afraid of making mistakes that it really stunted my progress. I also had such a difficult time understanding natives when they spoke to me. For them, it’s probably their normal speed of speaking, but it’s so fast that it’s hard to keep up. This continues to be a challenge for me though I have improved greatly since practicing on BaseLang.
What obstacle would have prevented you from signing up for BaseLang before?
I didn’t even know BaseLang existed. I wish I had found BaseLang years ago. Probably in the past I didn’t use online platforms because I thought it would be difficult to understand others online. I equated speaking online to speaking to someone on the telephone. I still struggle understanding others when speaking on the phone. But I see now that online is more like speaking to someone in person. It isn’t as difficult as I once thought it would be.
What did you find as a result of signing up to BaseLang?
I found that I enjoy BaseLang for many different reasons. My confidence level has risen as a result, as well as my vocabulary and verb tenses. It is great to have someone that I can communicate with in Spanish in a non-intimidating way. I can make mistakes and they are very patient. I get to speak about many different topics, which increases my vocabulary. It is a challenge, but it is great for my confidence when they are so encouraging to me. I also have met so many great and interesting people from all over Latin America. I’ve always been interested in other cultures, and I am learning about different countries from the people who live there. I love it.
What specific feature did you like the most about the Real World program?
I can only choose one? I love that there is one price and I can have as many lessons as I want. This is the closest you can get to an immersion experience without having to move to another country. I love the fact that I can book a lesson at the last minute if I feel like I want to have a lesson. With other platforms, I had to book lessons a week in advance, and sometimes things come up at the last minute and I have to cancel. With BaseLang, there is no penalty for canceling if I need to. It caters to the needs of the students. I also love that there are so many teachers to choose from. I can get accustomed to various accents.
How has learning Spanish impacted your life?
It has helped me find a job that I absolutely love. At the time when I was looking for a teaching position, it was difficult to find one. There were so many applicants at the time for only a few positions. After taking and passing the Spanish language proficiency test to become a bilingual teacher, I was able to secure a position in a district because there is a shortage of qualified bilingual teachers. Also, learning another language helps keep the mind young. Studies show that learning a new language has many cognitive benefits. It helps with memory, among other things. This is even more important as we age. Dementia runs in my family, so anything that might help ward off that dreadful disease, I’m all for it. If you don’t use it, you lose it.
Would you recommend this program, if so, why?
I recommend this course for all the reasons I listed above. If you want to learn Spanish at your own convenience, then BaseLang is great. The teachers are awesome, friendly, intelligent and skilled. There are so many of them, that you will certainly be able to find ones with whom you can develop a rapport. For one price, you can have as much practice as you can handle. It has helped me greatly and it can help you as well.
Any advice for other BaseLang students?
When I first started studying Spanish, I was like most who learned in school. I learned a lot of vocabulary but neglected the speaking and listening skills. It is so important to dive right in and practice these skills at the same time. Jump right in and don’t be afraid of making mistakes. The more you do, the faster you will develop your skills.
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