Rediscovering Spanish with Chavela

Last semester, I took several program classes and really enjoyed them. This semester I am only taking one program class – Spanish for Heritage Speakers taught by our wonderful Chavela.   

Even though I grew up in Honduras and Spanish is my native language, I have always felt more comfortable in English. Perhaps because I had never actually studied in Spanish before coming to this program, or I used more Spanglish than actual Spanish growing up, or simply because once I moved to the United States I had to switch and make English my primary language. Regardless, my brain has always felt more comfortable in English, so this class has been an opportunity to find comfort in my native tongue.

I am learning so many things about my native language that I did not know before. It has been interesting to see how I use Spanish in a more automatic way than I thought, and I don’t have to think as hard as I thought I did about the things I want to say. Chavela is great at explaining things and making us realize we already know most of what she is teaching us because our brains do it automatically.

Aside from learning grammar and other fun facts about Spanish, we often play games or do fun activities in class. At this point, our class has gotten pretty competitive, but it’s all in good fun! We also have debates about thought-provoking topics such as sexism in the language, the power of words, and how speaking Spanglish is something we should be proud of and something that should bring us any shame.

This class is definitely one of the things about this program that makes me feel really grateful because I have never had the opportunity to take a class designed for heritage speakers. As the term suggests, Spanish is a huge part of my identity and my heritage and it was uncomfortable for me to feel less confident in the language, but now I can say that I feel more connected to Spanish than I did before and it is all thanks to Chavela and her wonderful class.

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