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From B student to fluent Spanish speaker… how did she do it?

 I remember feeling devastated when almost my entire AP Spanish class was invited to join the Spanish National Honor Society, but my grades fell just below the requirement for admittance. 

I wasn’t very good at Spanish in high school, but I worked twice as hard as most of my classmates to maintain a B average, and even that was a considerable achievement for me, so I think that’s why my Spanish teachers were among my favorite teachers I’ve ever had. They went out of their way to spend extra time teaching me skills that my peers seemed to understand effortlessly.

I was embarrassed to speak in front of my classmates because I felt that their Spanish was better than mine, but that didn’t stop me from trying.

Fast forward to my sophomore year of college, I was a full-time student at the University of Granada in southern Spain. As part of an intensive full-immersion language program, so I lived with a host family that spoke only Spanish. 

Two years after that, I graduated college as the president of my university’s Spanish Club. Now, I tutor Spanish learners from middle school through college, and have started an instructional after-school Spanish Club for elementary school students that attend the school at which I teach second grade. 

How did I go from B student to Spanish success story?

If you are wondering where and when the switch flipped for me and my mindset towards language learning changed, it was on my first trip to Central America in 2016. 

I was given the opportunity to travel to Nicaragua on a humanitarian mission to teach and serve primary school children in a remote town several hours outside of the capital city, but I will always consider this trip to be one of the most transformative experiences of my life. Not just for the perspective it gave me and the lessons it taught me, but for the way it shifted my attitude towards learning Spanish. 

Because of the great impact that traveling had on my life and my newfound passion for learning Spanish, I chose to study abroad in Spain. One of my Spanish professors always used to tell me that my foreign accent was nothing but a sign of bravery, but I took that to heart. I immersed myself completely and took advantage of every opportunity to meet new people. 

I encourage anyone who has the means to travel to do it, for as long and as often as possible. 

It was hard to learn Spanish, but you truly never know the opportunities that could present themselves if you just push yourself to expand your comfortable limits, so take a leap of faith. 

A ship in a harbor is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for. 

P.S. Laura here, I currently volunteer to teach English classes each Tuesday to Spanish speakers which has been such a rewarding experience for me and a great way to learn Spanish (you don't have to speak it well to teach English!)

Check out or type in 'volunteer to teach English to Spanish speakers' into google to see if there's an opportunity near you!


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