Rebecca, Spanish Academy

Applying What I Learned at the Academy in Real Life

The Academy experience is more than just learning a new language. Here are things I learned at the Academy and how I applied them to life after the immersion experience.

Last summer, I completed the Spanish Academy as a sophomore in high school. Prior to embarking on my journey at the Summer Language Academy, I had an interest in studying foreign languages and knew that it would be beneficial for me in the future. However, it wasn’t until I fully immersed myself into the community at the Academy that I realized just how much more speaking a second language could offer.

During my time at the Academy, I was able to explore several different Spanish-speaking Latin American countries' customs, traditions and cultural backgrounds, as well as how I could live in one. I also tried my hand at cooking Tex-Mex cuisine in the kitchen. Not only was this course fun and delicious, but it also proved invaluable when I went to Texas after returning home from the Academy. I was able to go to Mexican restaurants and know what the various dishes were and ordered all of my food in Spanish.

When I started the Academy, I had two left feet on the dance floor, however, by the completion of the salsa dance class, I was able to keep up and dance with nearly everyone in my class. I was able to apply these skills in my hometown at our yearly Jazz music festival. That summer happened to be themed, “Latin American Jazz Fusion.” I went with my friends and was able to teach them the salsa steps I had learned at the Academy. By the end of the night, we were on stage dancing with the musicians!

I started the Spanish Academy having just completed level two of high school Spanish. I took the placement test and landed in a class that challenged me perfectly. By the end of my four weeks, I would leave a conversation wondering if I had been speaking Spanish or English, because it flowed so naturally! I eventually stopped translating the Spanish music that would play in the mornings to English in my head, because I understood the lyrics in Spanish as I heard them.

When my school year began in September, I was beyond excited to impress my Spanish teacher in level three with my new skills. My teacher was, and continues to be, so confident in my Spanish skills that she has granted me the option to skip Spanish four next year and go right into the AP class. This year, we frequently have our own side conversations in Spanish while the other students work together on vocabulary and grammar skills that I previously mastered at the Academy.

Today, I am extremely enthusiastic about foreign language. The Spanish Academy taught me that learning to speak a second language is just barely skimming the surface. In order to truly understand and use whatever language you speak it is important to learn the history, culture and customs behind it. I decided that I wanted to do this with English as well. I speak it every day but realized I know very little about its background.

This year I started a Vocabulary Club at my school with two main focuses. The first being to study SAT vocabulary for test preparation. While this is an important aspect of the club, its main goal is to study vocabulary words' foreign language roots via the study of etymology. From this, I have gained a greater appreciation for English and a better understanding of its diverse roots.

Thanks to the Academy, I am now endowed with a deeper cultural and linguistic understanding. It helped me achieve goals I never knew I had and its message continues to inspire me to learn more every day.