Beyond Barriers: Students teach English lessons for Spanish-speaking staff

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Mary Geddie, Sara Conde, Gladys Rosillo, Irulan Palma and Kate Frediani at the English classes hosted by the Spanish Club. Photo by Kate Frediani.

As our liberal arts education teaches us to integrate the things we learn with our surroundings, a few students have responded to a need in our community that reaches beyond language barriers. Three UD students — junior Sara Conde, junior Kate Frediani and freshman Irulan Palma — began to offer English lessons to native Spanish-speaking staff at UD.

Business major Sara Conde, who spearheaded the project, loves talking with staff members to practice her Spanish. During one conversation, an employee asked if she knew of any free English lessons available in the Irving area or at UD. 

When she realized that the options were not as accessible as they could be, Conde approached Dr. Ivers, assistant professor of Spanish. With the encouragement and guidance of her tutoring advisor, Conde decided to gather a team and make English lessons on campus a reality.

“We set out to see if there was even a demand for it considering the fact that just one employee had asked me, so we set up flyers with QR codes with my information and got a good audience who was interested,” said Conde. “The next step was figuring out where and what time worked best for them.”

The group, which meets bi-weekly, has steadily grown to about eight students who are UD staff, and the experience has been rewarding for both staff turned students and UD students turned teachers.

The classes and lesson plans, which are created by the UD students, are designed to teach all stages of language learning from beginner to more advanced.

“One of the most beautiful things about this is that it was born from an existing relationship between people who work and serve on our campus and the students they interact with every day,” said Dr. Ivers.

“It’s a wonderful example of the kind of students you guys are at UD — that you’re able to take the character that you’re building here like care for people in need and a desire to help and to move your learning, character, and virtue in concrete ways on campus.”

This relationship between students and staff has now grown beyond language barriers where they can have passing conversations on deeper and more authentic levels.

As for future plans for the English lessons and involvement of native Spanish speakers on campus, Conde said that she hopes to have more UD staff attend the classes and to have other UD employees participate in Spanish club activities such as Mate Monday, where students and faculty get together to have conversations in Spanish.

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