Finally! I can speak Spanish with my family in Panama #BaseLangStories

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Meet Stacy, a psychiatrist from New York who despite having Panamanian parents, grew up in a household that always spoke English. She turned to BaseLang in order to finally learn how to speak Spanish.

#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.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Stacy. I live with my husband and 2 children. I am a psychiatrist and I wanted to learn Spanish for many reasons. My parents are from Panama. They immigrated to NY from Panama when my mom was 17 and my father was 20. I was born in Brooklyn, NY.

My parents didn’t teach me Spanish when I was a child. In fact, I have cousins who were born in Panama and raised in the United States and they also do not speak Spanish. Now, I understand that my parents were immigrants and at that time they were focused on assimilating my brothers and me into the culture of our surroundings. In spite of that fact, that we listened to Spanish music – like salsa (I didn’t understand any of the words). We also ate Hispanic foods – like arroz con pollo, empanadas, patacones, tamales, etc. they never spoke to me in Spanish but they did speak Spanish to each other (especially when they didn’t want us to know what they were saying)

The truth is during my primary education, I didn’t concentrate on learning Spanish. I felt that when I was ready to learn, it would be easy, because “it’s in my genes.” But in reality, that wasn’t the case.

BaseLang Story - Stacy

Why did you want to learn Spanish?

It wasn’t until I was in college and then medical school that I realized what a huge opportunity had been lost, b/c, at that time, I fully realized how not being fluent in Spanish would affect both personal and professional relationships and also job opportunities. As much as I wanted to learn, at that point in time, I was focused on entering medical school and my schedule was already full. When I was in medical school – I was bothered by not being able to speak to patients without the use of interpreter services. In addition, when I visited my family in Panama as an adult I felt more of a distance between us due to the language barrier. My primary reason for wanting to learn Spanish was to communicate with my family in Panama and also to have more varied career and travel opportunities.

In the past, what did you use to learn Spanish?

What haven’t I used? I have tried every and anything to improve my Spanish. When I was in medical school – the year between my 1st and 2nd year – I spent a month in Costa Rica, in a homestay and took classes at Centro de Idiomas. However, when I returned to medical school, I didn’t have time to practice. For many years, I wanted to speak Spanish but for one reason or another, not having time, or motivation I continued not speaking/learning the language. It wasn’t until 2018 that I really started to take learning Spanish seriously. I returned to the Spanish school in Costa Rica for 10 days.

When I returned to NY, I started to participate in “intercambios,” language exchanges with a woman from El Salvador and with a man from Columbia every week. I also took a free class in the local library. Although those things were good, I felt as if there was a better method to improve my learning of Spanish. I read books like  “Easy Spanish 1, 2, 3” and also spent a lot of time on the internet watching Youtube channels, for example, – “The Spanish Dude”, “Señor Jordan” and listened to podcasts like “Españolistas,” “Spanish Obsessed,” “Coffee Break Spanish.

All of those resources were helpful, but it wasn’t until I discovered BaseLang that I really started to note that my abilities in Spanish were improving. I have been using BaseLang since February and because of Covid-19, in March I started to take classes with more frequency. Little by little my ability to understand and speak Spanish has improved.

Before BaseLang, which part of learning Spanish did you struggle with the most?

My study habits were very inconsistent and I would give up when I felt I wasn’t progressing at the rate I believed I should be.

What obstacle would have prevented you from signing up for BaseLang before?

Feeling as if I didn’t have the time. But now I know that if you decide you want to do something – then you also have to decide how you are going to allocate your time to get it done.

What did you find as a result of signing up?

My ability to feel confident when speaking has improved dramatically. Now I am able to speak with my mother over the phone and send my cousins text messages via WhatsApp completely in Spanish. I can listen to songs and watch series on Netflix – I don’t understand everything but every week I am able to understand more.

What specific feature did you like the most about the Real World program?

I love the user interface and the ease of use of the program. The professors are available practically every hour. Most importantly I am able to learn Spanish in a way that works for me. The teachers are there to support my learning by clearing up questions and uncertainties I have. In addition, we listen to songs, watch videos, and engage in various activities that all serve to improve my ability to communicate in Spanish.

How has learning Spanish impacted your life?

Now, I am able to embrace all aspects of my intricate heritage and I share those parts of me with my own family. I am happy to have the ability to learn Spanish at this time, the act of learning makes my days at home very interesting. Now, I share my love of learning languages with my kids. My daughter is also taking Spanish classes on BaseLang and we practice Spanish together every day. In the end, nothing happens before its time. Now is my time to learn and share the love of language learning and Panamanian culture with my kids. I am excited and happy to share this with them.

Would you recommend this course, if so, why?

Without a doubt – I love this program. The teachers are amazing, somehow they are all able to make learning fun. During my classes I am able to work on different aspects of language learning – writing, reading, speaking, and listening comprehension. The teachers are interesting and because they live in different parts of Latin America – they share their experiences – and aspects of their culture. The experience during class is educational and entertaining too!

Any advice for fellow Spanish students?

There is no trick or secret clue to learn Spanish or any language. The key to language learning is being consistent and having a desire to reach your goals. I have not yet reached my ultimate goal in Spanish but I also don’t have a deadline. The ads and programs that promise that you will “be fluent and speak like a native speaker in 1 or 3 months” are gimmicks. Language learning is a journey to be enjoyed not a destination to be reached. I enjoy the process and am grateful to have the talented staff of BaseLang to accompany me on my journey.


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This blog is presented by BaseLang: Unlimited Spanish Tutoring for $149 a Month. Learn more here.