Lessons from Abroad

I have been working with the Collaborative for Multilingual Writing and Research (CMWR) since Winter of last year. While I love working with international students, when I first started, I found it challenging to effectively and constructively help English-language learners with their grammar. I tried to remedy this issue by studying English grammar myself, but ultimately felt it was inadequate, and that the issue required a more holistic solution.

This mission was put on hold Fall Quarter as I decided to study abroad in Chile. When I arrived in Chile, I had minimal experience with Spanish and was limited to textbook greetings and phrases. I did not enroll in any Spanish classes during this time period and solely relied on interaction with friends to inform my speaking skills. Without realizing it, by the end of my five-month stay in Chile I was able to have unabridged conversations with my friends.

I fell in love with Chilean culture, and in order to understand it, I needed to understand Spanish. I was able to learn quite a bit of Spanish in an authentic way, and I now have a greater appreciation of experience and conversation as methods of language learning. My experiences in Chile have allowed me to connect with international students on a level I previously could not. I can now empathize with students and share helpful tips I have discovered about learning a new language myself.

Returning to the CMWR with a newfound love for teaching and learning languages, I feel that I have resumed my mission of effectively and constructively aiding English-language learners. I wholeheartedly believe that immersion is the best way to learn a language, and I am excited to continue working to plan events for international students. Additionally, I am more motivated than ever to learn more about teaching English as a second language. I have decided to pursue certification for teaching English to non-native speakers, and am looking forward to utilizing these skills as the quarter progresses.

When I was in Chile, I was comforted by the immersion programs sponsored by the university. It was nice to know that there were people I could turn to if I needed help, people who understood what learning a second language is like. I now feel like I can offer that same kind of comfort to international students at DePaul, and hope that I can help provide a comfortable and welcoming space for learning and growth through my work with the CMWR.