To start off this new series, Madison will be explaining what it was like to learn and speak Spanish when she studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain earlier this year. The purpose of this new series is to prove that languages differ around the world and that no foreign language class will be able to cover all the differences! Read about her experience and advice below:
Studying a foreign language is both challenging and rewarding but you can never truly be prepared for when you get off that plane in a foreign country and are thrown into the native language and culture without any buffer between you.
I had studied Spanish for 7 years before I studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain and even though I had so many years under my belt, I was still incredibly nervous. I felt my Spanish wouldn’t be good enough for the locals or I would not have a broad enough vocabulary to communicate while abroad.
The biggest piece of advice I can give when it comes to language while studying abroad is you have to have confidence in your foreign language skills! Confidence is key. If you have confidence in your knowledge and yourself, this will help others to take you more seriously as a language speaker and your positive attitude towards your speaking will make the possible mistakes less noticeable.
The hardest part at first about speaking Spanish in Spain was the speed; having to force your brain to comprehend Spanish quickly and efficiently after not using it that much throughout the year was definitely a challenge. Another big thing to remember is to not be afraid to ask questions and to ask locals to repeat what they have said to you. It’s better to stop them and ask rather than just nodding along with the conversation pretending you know what’s going on – that won’t build meaningful relationships for you with locals in your host city.
In Sevilla, the biggest difference in Spanish is that they cut off the ends of words when they speak and losing the ends of words in conversations can make it very difficult to decipher what is being said. For example, the Spanish word for fish is ‘pescado’ but Sevillanos pronounce is ‘pescao’, they completely omit the ‘d’ from the word. After living there for four months, my accent and language actually adapted to this ‘accent’ of the city and I speak Sevillano Spanish. It’s very different and a tell-tale sign of what part of Spain someone may be from! For all those future study abroad students, don’t be afraid of the foreign language – embrace it! Soak it all in.
Madison studied abroad during the spring semester in Sevilla, Spain through an affiliate company, CEA. There are several options regarding host universities and affiliate companies centered in Sevilla, but the gorgeous city can easily be reached from other Spanish cities for a visit.
Interested in studying abroad in a Spanish city this spring semester? Note our early application deadline for programs in Spain of September 15th! If you want to learn more about how you can study abroad in a Spanish-speaking city, contact us today or visit our website to make an appointment!