Wednesday, October 8, 2003
Every Thursday, a group meets in the small back room of Epilogue Book Co. to practice Spanish or to learn English. The group was started by Summer Laws after she moved back to the states from Mexico.
Moving to Mexico with minimal Spanish created compassion and understanding for the people who move here with minimal English, Laws said.
"The Latino culture is so warm," she said. "(In Mexico) they were really nice to me and interested to hear about my life. It was amazing how well they could understand my bad Spanish."
Laws had been working for a study abroad program in a tiny southern Baja fishing town. With every day in Mexico, her Spanish vocabulary grew, but with every day back in the United States, she lost more and more.
"I didn't want to lose what I'd learned," Laws said. "And I wanted to learn more.
"I knew there were Latinos and Mexicans working here. I thought (a weekly conversational Spanish group) would be a good way to hold onto my Spanish."
The meetings have a loyal core group of Spanish speakers who come to the book store directly after their English as a Second Language class at Colorado Mountain College.
"They come even when we cancel the group," Laws said.
Conversation will flow for minutes at a time, but more often the talk is broken up with the scratching of pencils on paper as people record new nouns and verbs.
"A lot of time is spent teaching," Laws said. "We write out phrases because it's sometimes easier to learn if you can see it."
Because of the group, English speakers are improving their Spanish and Spanish speakers are learning English, but more importantly, it's a chance for the two populations to bridge the language barrier.
"More people are getting to know the Mexican people who work here," Laws said. "I think they are not very well integrated. They live together and work together."
Some of the Mexicans who attend Thursday's meetings don't speak any English at all, she said, but people who don't speak Spanish shouldn't be intimidated to come.
"A good way to learn Spanish is by teaching English," she said. It helps to bring a Spanish/English dictionary, a notebook and a pen.
The group is held at 8 p.m. Thursdays at the Epilogue Book Co. For more information, call 871-6005.