We’re asking students, recent grads, teachers, and counselors five questions on how languages play a role in shaping personal and professional success…
Meet Camila—a Colorado State University undergraduate who speaks Spanish and is learning French.
1. Could you share with us a little about your earliest experiences with languages and cultures—at home and at school? What about the Chilean culture would you encourage fellow language learners to absolutely explore?
I was raised bilingual from birth. My mother always spoke to me in Spanish and my dad in English. When I expressed an interest in learning French when I was a teenager, my parents encouraged me to pursue it.
Chile has a rich literary tradition. Our national authors, especially poets, are given a special focus in language arts classes in schools, which I think is wonderful. Many people know Pablo Neruda, but I would also encourage people to read Gabriela Mistral, Roberto Bolaño, and María Luisa Bombal.
2. During the pandemic, you decided to take your French to the next level with an online tutor: Tell us more about that! Did working with a native speaker have a positive impact on the experience and/or what surprised you about the experience?
I had several tutors during this time, but I stuck with Jean-Charles the longest. He was a very kind, patient man from France who was living in Morocco.
His parents were Spanish, so he was familiar with the language that I reference when speaking French, and was therefore able to understand the errors I was making precisely and quickly. The consistency of meeting with a native speaker with whom I spoke only French was really the key to my improvement.
3. Could you share more about having an overseas conversation buddy at Colorado State University (CSU)? What are the expectations, and what’s been the greatest takeaway from the experience?
I met Lorie, a student at the Université d’Haute Alsace, back in 2021, and we are still in contact. We were both participating in a joint effort between our schools to help students practice their conversation skills in the language they are learning.
We do half an hour in English and half an hour in French on Zoom once a week, sometimes talking about the assigned topic, but mostly just talking about our lives. I recommend everyone do this!
4. We’d love to hear more about your USAC study abroad semester in Lyon, France! What types of classes did you take? Why should other students consider a stay in Lyon? What was the best part of staying with a host mother?
Studying abroad was a wonderful, rich experience that I wish for every language student to have. Our USAC program was language-focused, but I also took some electives. I chose a fantastic French literature class and an art history class on Impressionism.
The best part about staying with a host mom is to be in a real home, to experience her cooking and to talk with her about her views and her travels. She was a wonderful lady and Lyon is a near perfect city, with many different areas full of beauty and an incredible transport system.
5. What’s next on your language journey?
It’s a never-ending process, even with our mother tongues, to continue to learn more words and better ways to express and connect. I hope to have the opportunity to spend more time in France and to improve my written and spoken communication skills.
Complete this thought: “Learning another language means…"
Learning another language means having an opportunity to reinvent your mind.
Check out our Connect with French, Connect with Spanish, and Study Abroad pages to explore language scholarships, university programs, testimonials, and more! And, as always, visit @LangConnectsFdn on social media to share your story with us.