ABOUT SPANISH IMMERSION
The Spanish Immersion Program, or ¡Sí!, began six years ago. Each fall, ¡Sí! volunteers complete a Spanish training course. These volunteers then enter regular community placements in the spring where they can apply their newfound Spanish skills.
Some League members have entered ¡Sí! with no previous Spanish experience, while others simply polished rusty skills.
¡Sí! classes are held once per week for fifteen weeks, late August through mid-December. Class sizes are limited to six students, and each class is approximately 90 minutes long. Participants are given assignments or vocabulary to study at home each week as well. The course is designed for beginners and begins with the basics: pronunciation, pronouns, articles, and the like. Verb conjugations and vocabulary are taught throughout. By the end of the semester, the instructor will also touch on more advanced topics like reflexive and irregular verbs. The instructor works with students in real-life conversational skills and is available throughout the spring for support.
An extension of the SI program are “Si para ti” classes, which non-SI placement members pay to attend. The classes are offered to interested JLA members and sustainers during the fall and spring.
In the spring, ¡Sí! volunteers no longer take classes and instead begin working shifts at the community agencies they were assigned at the beginning of the League year. Specific community placements were selected where Spanish skills would be helpful but true fluency would not be required. For example, Animal Trustees Austin is a low-cost veterinary clinic which has many clients who speak only Spanish. ¡Sí! volunteers are able to assist ATA staff with reception desk duties, post-operative care instructions, and other client interactions in Spanish. However, there is generally Spanish-speaking staff on-site to assist with urgent situations, such as emergency calls, which might take place in Spanish.
JLA members with questions about the ¡Sí! program or who are interested in finding out more about taking Spanish classes at their own cost through The Junior League of Austin are encouraged to contact the 2016-2017 Spanish Immersion Project Chair, Gibbs Miller.