By Junna Miyazaki | Reporter
Charla, or Spanish conversation hours, is meant to help students improve their Spanish skills. All Charla sessions are conducted by graduate students, according to a Baylor webpage on Charla. The webpage also says students will receive credit for their Spanish classes after attending.
Chicago graduate student Maddie Craver said graduate students conduct one session of Charla a week. Six graduate students teach Charla.
“[Charla] is a part of our education too because we are learning how to lead students and teach different topics,” Craver said.
The graduates prepare games or conversation topics for students to use during the session.
“The main goal of Charla is to practice speaking,” Craver said. “We have different conversational quizzes to get people to talk.”
Garden Grove, Calif., graduate student Yulissa Torres said she focuses more on helping students improve their pronunciation.
“I want them to have conversations with one another so they can learn from one another,” Torres said.
Craver said she hopes Charla sessions have become a place students want to be.
“I hope that students feel safe here,” Craver said. “In big classrooms, students are sometimes intimidated to speak. I hope they feel even more comfortable here than in the classroom so that they can learn and practice a lot.”
Craver also said she wants students to know she is not their teacher, and Charla is not a rigid, unforgiving space.
“I’m not your teacher, more a leader,” Craver said. “This is the space where people feel comfortable to speak and make mistakes.”
Broken Arrow, Okla., freshman Armando Ramirez said he enjoyed attending Charla.
“It’s interesting to have conversations in Spanish, having a relaxing environment without pressure,” Ramirez said.
Ramirez said Spanish classes tend to focus on grammar and writing but not speaking, which Charla does.
“Taking many Spanish classes is a lot,” Ramirez said. “Classes focus more on grammar and writing but not on speaking as much.”
Ramirez said having time to practice Spanish during the day is important.
“I’m planning to use Spanish for my career to get a positive competitive advantage,” Ramirez said. “I hope I’m confident by practicing.”
To learn more about Charla, email Dr. Stephen Silverstein, director of the graduate program and associate professor of Spanish, at Stephen_Silverstein@baylor.edu