Student Spotlight: How Juan Adds Spanish Into His Daily Life

Tell us about yourself! What language are you learning and why did you choose to learn it? What are your goals?

I'm learning Spanish. My family is from the Dominican Republic. I took Spanish all throughout high school but I never really "learned" it, especially how to speak it and communicate effectively. I did well in the courses but they didn't really help me much.

My goal is very simple - to never stop improving my Spanish. I want to be able to not only read, write, and speak Spanish fluently, but also understand the various cultural nuances, dialects and accents. Full immersion.

Someday I hope to write bilingual children's books and maybe a full length biography in Spanish. Ojalá!

What's your typical day like and how does Fluent City fit in? Do you do anything else to incorporate language learning into your daily life?

The Fluent City emails are amazing. They are such a valuable resource.

I found the Coffee Break Español podcast, which I listen to religiously when I'm cooking or in the shower. Podcasts are a pretty cool way to passively reinforce the language that I'm learning.

I also enjoy Pocoyo. It's a cute Spanish language cartoon for preschoolers. They speak at a pace I can comprehend and I get to feel like a kid again. I also like watching movies I know by heart in Spanish on Netflix. It is a really entertaining and cool way to improve my language skills.

How do you think learning a language will change your connection with others? Is there a specific person who encouraged you to learn?

I never got to communicate with my Grandmother and Grandfather the way I would have liked before they passed. I am 100% fueled by the promise I made to them to be fluent. Getting COVID-19 in March made me realize tomorrow isn't promised and it was time to stop putting this off.

What impact has learning a language had on your life in the last few months?

There's not a day that goes by that I don't find a funny or interesting way to incorporate Spanish into my daily life. Podcasts, Spanish TV, radio, speaking with my dad's girlfriend.

I also make up characters and practice under those personas. It makes it fun and less embarrassing, which has always been a hurdle for me coming from a Hispanic family.

What's been your favorite socially distant activity to do with friends and family over the last few months?

Group chats. I have tried harder to connect more with family and friends via text or Whatsapp. Instead of a superficial check-in, my friends and I make a concerted effort to have specific topics like the election, sports, or something else we're passionate about to continue the conversation.