A chance to practice Spanish at the Northeast Library


Northeast Community College library and help desk

Llolanda Hernandez, Reporter

Next Tuesday, September 29, Spanish students and wannabe Spanish speakers will get a chance to practice their language skills. Spanish language Instructor Wendy Swenson has organized a first time casual get together, which she says helps bring the classroom learning to life. The event, called a Charla (chat) is from 4-5 p.m. in the Northeast Community College Library. Swenson says anyone at Northeast is welcome and refreshments will be served. Viewpoint reporter, Llolanda Hernandez, sat down with Swenson to ask her about learning Spanish and how being multilingual can greatly benefit a career.

Llolanda Hernandez: “What do you expect to do at the event?”

Wendy Swenson: “It is going to be a very relaxed, very casual atmosphere. People are welcome to come in at any time during 4-5 p.m. on Tuesday the 29th. They can come in for half an hour, the full hour, or however long they can make it. It’s just going to be an opportunity to sit down with someone and have a conversation. I’m going to have some vocabulary aids for maybe someone who is rusty and needs the reminders. There will be food, that’s always a good thing too, is to get some munchies. Like I said it’s just a chance for people to sit down and practice in a real casual atmosphere.”

Llolanda Hernandez: “Why are you having a Spanish event like this one?”

Wendy Swenson: “Well basically, there are people who have learned Spanish in the past or have some Spanish experience and they don’t have an opportunity to practice it. Also, I wanted current Spanish students to have the opportunity to experience the language in a more real life situation outside of the classroom, make it more casual, make it less about the grade, more about just practicing, and to build some community. I am inviting all Northeast personnel, it could be teachers, employees, and students. That way we can get to know each other. It is one of the things that is nice on the campus if you know people, it’s a lot easier to know who to talk to when you need help. I teach Spanish I and Spanish II and I don’t even get the chance to practice the upper level Spanish. I am looking forward to this as well to step out of the academic atmosphere.”

Wendy Swenson on International trip
Wendy Swenson (bottom row right) took Northeast students to Spain and Italy for the 2014 Northeast Community College “Go Global” Program

Llolanda Hernandez: “Why do you think that it is important for students to speak Spanish?”

Wendy Swenson: “There are so many benefits to learning a language. Obviously, anytime you have another language, that makes you more employable. There are many native Spanish speakers in this country and being able to do that just gives you one up on someone else who might be competing for the same job. It makes you able to work with your customers and build that relationship. Studies have also shown that by studying another language you can actually improve your native language because you get a better understanding of grammar, how to express yourself, improve vocabulary. Multiple parts of your brain are used so that also helps to develop lifelong learning. You also get a different perspective as far as cultures. I think one of the nice things about the Spanish language is that some of the cultural aspects are built in, for example, respect. You show respect for elders by using a different form of “you”. It is shown that if you learn another language that helps you to then go on and learn a third, fourth, or fifth, once you have one or two under your belt it just becomes easier.

Llolanda Hernandez: “How many languages do you know?”

Wendy Swenson: “I have two! I have played with Italian, so Italian I am working on, but the language that I would really love to learn is Latin because that is the basis for so many languages.”


Llolanda Hernandez: “What do you expect or want the outcome to be?”

Wendy Swenson: “Well this is the first Charla (chat), we’re going to hold them every month. I want a lot of people there, I want people to be able to practice, and to feel comfortable. I’m also hoping that this will help my current Spanish students who attend by making them feel more comfortable speaking up in the classroom. There are many ways that this could expand once we get it started by bringing in community members. I know that we have also talked about students who are in the English as a second language program, that perhaps we could do something like talking half the time in Spanish and the other in English. Whichever language you’re more comfortable in, part of the time you would be the expert helping the other person. I think that this has many possibilities.”