Want to take your Spanish beyond the books and classroom? Here, Honolulu tutor Jinan B. offers some ideas to volunteer in Spanish and other ways to share your skills with your community…
Spanish has special significance in the United States, as it is widely spoken by people from a variety of Hispanic and Hispanic-American cultures. One of the great things about learning Spanish is that you can practice the language and improve your fluency while actively in your community. The following are suggestions for ways to put your Spanish into action to mutually benefit you and other individuals in your community.
1. Volunteer in Spanish
Volunteering is an exceptional way to achieve greater fluency in Spanish, because you’re practicing your speaking and comprehension skills while helping others at the same time. There is a great need for bilingual English-Spanish speakers to help non-English-speaking native Spanish speakers with navigating a variety of situations in which English is needed. You can also seek out volunteer opportunities working with disadvantaged children, some of whom may be native Spanish speakers or bilingual English-Spanish speakers. A good resource for finding opportunities to volunteer in Spanish is your local government office or public library.
2. Connect with Fellow Spanish Language Learners
Another way to participate more deeply in your local community while speaking Spanish is to meet others interested in improving their language skills. This could take the form of a Spanish language meetup group to get additional practice in the language outside of your lessons. You could also use online forums, such as Craigslist, to find an exchange partner to practice with (for example, an exchange in which you converse with your partner in English part of the time and in Spanish the rest of the time). This is mutually beneficial in helping each of you improve your speaking abilities, and you may make a new friend in the process. In any case, you will gain a deeper understanding of the culture and language through this person.
3. Strike Up a Conversation with a Native Speaker
An easy way to incorporate Spanish into your daily routine in a community-oriented way is to make Spanish-speaking connections. Depending on the community you live in, this may be as simple as striking up a friendly conversation with Spanish speakers in a business you frequent. Spanish speakers are usually quite friendly and delighted that you are learning their language. Making friends who speak Spanish can allow for many exceptional interactions, in which you participate in cultural exchange and have fun at the same time!
4. Host an Exchange Student or Traveler
If you would like an immersion experience and are unable to travel, how about hosting an exchange student or traveler? In exchange for free or low-cost housing, your visitor can verse you in the intricacies of Spanish as you share some of the wonderful things about your culture and location. It is an excellent way to reinforce what you learn in your Spanish class or tutoring sessions and will make a difference in someone else’s travel and cultural experiences.
These suggestions are just scratching the surface of the possibilities available to you for putting your Spanish into action in your community. The rewards are plentiful, for you and for those with whom you interact. As your Spanish improves, you may find even greater meaning in your engagement with the Spanish language.
Jinan B. tutors in Honolulu, HI. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, teaching various courses including Community Nutrition, Concepts in Nutrition Education, and Advanced Child and Adolescent Nutrition. Learn more about Jinan here!
Photo by Rebecca Demes