Spanish Lab helps students stay fluent

The Spanish Conversation Lab is a resource on campus for students to receive help from tutors to better their Spanish.

“Speaking out loud is something that’s so crucial,” said Elizabeth Thompson, a junior majoring in Spanish education. “This is a great place to come practice and really feel confident in it.”

Thompson said the main purpose of the lab is for any student to practice their Spanish in a safe and friendly environment.

She said they try to make it an immersion lab, playing Reggatone and Latino Pop in the lab.

She said immersing students in the culture along with having them speak out loud can improve their accents and conjugations.

Thompson said the Spanish Conversation Lab is free and has been around for several years.

“You meet a lot of really great people through it,” Thompson said.

Thompson said she served in the Peru Cusco Mission, and her love for the Latin culture and Spanish is a part of why she is director of the Spanish Conversation Lab.

For those interested in volunteering as a Spanish tutor, she said they must speak Spanish fluently, be familiar with grammar, be punctual and be personable.

She said being personable when teaching a language is important because one must be kind when helping and correcting the learner, otherwise the student will not have a positive learning experience.

Thompson said while there is no required training before hand, they hold input meetings to share ideas, improve teaching skills and become effective tutors during the semester.

In fact, they were scheduled to hold an ‘input meeting’ the next day for tutors and directors.

She said she asks tutors to volunteer two hours each week, from 5-7 p.m., and try to drop in more, if possible.

“We have a really good mix.,” said Thomspon. “We have a lot of really good Latino speakers, and they are super good at teaching it, and we also have a lot of returned missionaries. It’s honestly probably half and half,” Thompson said.

Their tutors have diverse backgrounds, such as Ricky Busselberg, a senior studying accounting said his mother is from Monterrey, Mexico, and his father is German.

He said he grew up with a constant Spanish influence with his mom and her side of the family.

“It’d be a good idea to tutor, might as well before I graduate,” Busselberg said.

Busselberg  said another reason he signed up is to maintain his Spanish.

When tutoring, Busselberg said he tries to focus on the student’s main reason being here.

Busselberg said, depending on why students come, he chooses different teaching methods.

He said he has them speak, hear, and write Spanish down gets their attention more.

He said that when the teacher see their own student write it down, it causes them to be more active.

“It will stick to them a lot better,” Busselberg said. “That’s why I like to use all methods when I try to tutor.”

Busselberg said the key to learning a new language is communication, rather than just learning words.

Busselberg said that, while serving his mission in the Nicaragua South mission, he saw a difference between elders who learned Spanish in two ways.

He met an elder who only knew how to teach and others become fluent because of the work and effort they put into speaking Spanish.

Busselberg said that it’s necessary to come into Spanish Lab and practice speaking as much as they can to better their skills.

“I like the feeling of teaching, ” Busselberg said, “and you are sharing a skill.”

Students interested in becoming tutors next semester can receive emails at the beginning of Winter semester, along with interviews during the first two weeks.

Spanish Conversation Lab is held in Joseph F. Smith 468 Monday through Friday from 5-7p.m.

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