An update from Kiley Walsh, a junior Spanish education major and French minor.
I got interested in foreign languages because in high school, I participated in a one-week exchange program with students from Barcelona and immediately fell in love with Spain and the Spanish culture. I met my best friend (or Spanish sister, I like to say) on the exchange, and we still talk every week and have visited each other each year since we met. Discovering the power of language and communication encourages me to keep learning languages and broaden my knowledge of the world.
The community provided for Illinois State language students is incredibly encouraging. I started my career wanting to pursue only a Spanish degree and quickly became interested in branching out and learning more languages. At Illinois State, I have taken a Portuguese class and now am pursuing a French minor. I had never taken French before college, and the professors, courses, outside activities, and opportunities to practice your language skills are inviting and supportive. I am currently taking classes in Hispanic Literature, Hispanic culture, and Second Year French (my schedule is unique from most college students as I only have one class taught in English!).
I am on the women’s golf team at the University and often play against girls at other schools who are from Spanish or French speaking countries. Every time I am paired with a Spanish or French golfer, I love to spend all day speaking in their native language.
Something that I particularly like about majoring/minoring in Spanish/French is the community within the foreign language students and professors. I love having a group of people who are constantly encouraging each other to practice our foreign languages. Any time I see a professor or classmate in the hallway, we will always greet each other with “¡Buenos días!” or “Bonjour!
I studied abroad in the Summer of 2016 at the Universidad de Salamanca-Ávila Campus. I stayed with a host family for four weeks who did not know any English and went to school every day to take classes on Spanish conversation, culture, and linguistics. On the weekends, I traveled throughout Spain to discover different cities, such as San Sebastián, Barcelona, Madrid, and Salamanca. Participating in a study abroad program was an incredible opportunity to practice my Spanish with native speakers for an entire month without using any English.
In the future I would love to be a high school Spanish and French teacher! I hope to learn as much French as I currently know Spanish, and possibly begin learning a third foreign language. I hope to continue traveling and practicing my language skills with native speakers. Also, I would love to find opportunities within my own community and country where I could serve as a translator in schools or business.