On Thursday afternoons, patrons of Westlawn Dining Hall now have the opportunity to practice their Spanish.

Judy Weaver, academic counselor, took the idea of a Spanish table from her previous position as a Spanish teacher at Linfield College in Oregon. She and Dean Rhodes, associate professor of Spanish, have previously tested the idea at Goshen.

Weaver reflected, “Dean Rhodes and I offered a Spanish table at Goshen 5 or 6 years ago. I think we did it only for a semester, but both students and staff came and it was fun!”

Weaver and Rhodes feel it is time for the Spanish table to return.

“Last semester I was talking with a student who said she was doing fine in Spanish and did not need tutoring, but she wished she could get more conversation practice to prepare for SST,” said Weaver. “I know from talking with former SSTers that they wish there were more opportunities to practice their Spanish after they come back.”

In need of conversation leaders, Weaver tapped the shoulder of Angeliky Santos, a senior and native Spanish-speaker. Already a Spanish tutor, Santos sees the Spanish table as an additional chance for students to practice.

Last week around 8 people, both students and faculty, visited the table.

“I encourage anyone who wants to practice their Spanish skills to come and join us,” said Santos. “The Spanish table will certainly not be the most comfortable and easygoing lunch because you will have to speak in another language, but the great aspect about it is that you can get to know people who are also taking Spanish.”

Weaver, who visited the table last Thursday, explained, “There are no specific topics or subjects of conversation. It’s very relaxed and informal… It was fun to see students warming up to speaking Spanish and finding ways to say what they wanted to say. We stumbled around and made mistakes, but we managed to communicate. Some people mostly listened, and that is fine, too.”

“As a native Spanish-speaker, I must say that I am impressed by the ability that many GC students have of speaking Spanish,” Santos said. “This tradition should not be lost. Such [an ability] can only be reached by hard work and practice. Therefore I encourage all students who are taking Spanish to not be shy and take time to sit with us and practice.”

On the topic of SST, Santos asks students to consider the availability of translators.

“Once people get to travel to Nicaragua or Peru, there is not going to be an interpreter 24/7 with the students, so right now is the time people should be practicing their Spanish,” Santos said.

“If you’re in the mood to speak Spanish, you are welcome to borrow the ‘Spanish Table’ sign from the cashier and establish your own Spanish table at any meal,” said Weaver. “The department of modern and classical languages and literatures will provide conversation leaders every Thursday from 12:15 to 1:15. If students indicate interest in expanding it to other times, languages or to other locations (such as in the Leaf Raker), we can certainly consider that.”