Aero: Alaiza Dominguez – Costa Rica 2015 – Learning the Language


Aero: Alaiza Dominguez – Costa Rica 2015 – Learning the Language
Creative Commons Image via The LEAF Project

Aero: Alaiza Dominguez – Costa Rica 2015 – Learning the Language


Alaiza Dominguez

Despite already having a little bit of a background knowledge with the language there were a few bumps in the road. Among them were dialect, the speed at which some folks spoke, and my big ol’ American accent. Overall it was pretty easy for me to communicate with people. There is one Spanish conversation that really sticks out in my mind. I was chatting with a stranger in the park about my travels and when he asked what day I arrived I said what would translate to something like ‘the second day of January.’ Although still somewhat correct, the man told me a more common way to state the date. He didn’t laugh, he didn’t bite my head off, and the sky didn’t fall. I made a mistake and he helped me. I wasn’t even embarrassed. If anything I was really grateful that a complete stranger was willing to help me sound better rather than just overlook my grammatical whoopsie that I would eventually make again if not taught otherwise.


ML@FLCC Costa Rica
2015 Flickr Gallery

One thing that really surprised me was how much English I heard. I kind of expected to hear a fair amount from tour guides and retail workers but I was blown away by how many strangers I came across that have taken or are taking English classes. Even some of the girls at Hogar Siembra spoke English. I’ve gotten used to the reaction I get when someone finds out I understand Spanish but it was really cool to see people freak out over English. I had many conversations where I’d speak Spanish, and the other person talking to me would respond in English so we could both improve our conversational skills in the language we’re trying to learn.

Confidence was a very big part of the learning experience. Even though I love meeting new people and learning about them, verbal confidence is something I constantly find myself struggling with and I see others do it too. During our stay in Costa Rica I noticed that strangers are more likely to continue a conversation with someone who struggles to speak their language but maintains a high level confidence as opposed to someone who is shyly fumbling over their words. Studying abroad really opened my eyes to the fact that no one’s speech is perfect. We are all constantly learning.

Alaiza Dominguez
LEAF Contributor