After a hiatus due to COVID-19, El Centro revived its Spanish conversation class program, which has been rebranded as Conversa Conmigo.
El Centro — Elon’s Latinx and Hispanic center — is offering five levels of classes, including new beginner, beginner mid, intermediate low, intermediate high and advanced. All classes except for the advanced class will be taught by student leaders. Classes will take place in El Centro at different times throughout the week.
Remi Shook, senior student team leader of Conversa Conmigo, said one of the first steps to restarting the program was recruiting teachers.
“The idea is for students to volunteer to teach all levels of Spanish classes, specifically
conversation classes, to any students, faculty or staff at Elon,” Shook said.
Shook said the conversation classes do not function like a traditional classroom setting but instead allow for more immersion into the language. Although classes are leveled, Shook said student teachers will gauge the level of understanding of individual classes and work from there.
According to Shook, every class should look different. While student teachers do have a guidebook to base the classes on, they are able to talk about a wide range of topics from talking about the weather that day to current news in Latin American countries.
“The point isn’t for them to have homework, but it’s more just a guide to help them learn,” Shook said.
The classes are not only an opportunity for the participants but also for the student-teachers. Senior Gisselle Garcia-Jose said she believes that those leading the classes can get just as much out of it as the participants.
“I’ll take any chance that I have to practice Spanish because it’s not something that I usually do while on campus,” Garcia-Jose said. “I get to practice and also get to show someone else how to speak Spanish on a more conversational level.”
While Garcia-Jose is a native Spanish speaker, Shook said other teachers learned English as their first language and know what it is like to start from ground zero when learning a new language.
Conversa Conmigo teacher Dejour Banks, a senior, has spent years developing his Spanish and even has a YouTube channel, “Tú Lo Tienes,” that teaches Spanish.
Shook said Conversa Conmigo not only invites students to explore the Spanish language but also faculty and staff. Associate professor of environmental studies Amanda Chunco said she attended El Centro’s conversation classes for years prior to them being paused due to COVID-19 and is excited to dive back into learning Spanish.
“I love learning foreign languages but it’s a little intimidating to take a formal class as a faculty member,” Chunco said.
Shook said Conversa Conmigo gives students, faculty, and staff alike the opportunity to learn Spanish without being in a formal classroom setting.
“A lot of people should take advantage of this program because it’s free and it can be really beneficial to either starting or improving your Spanish conversation journey,” Shook said.