Before I tell you about my experience at Habla Ya, I suppose I should tell you a little about myself so you properly understand my position in all this. I studied Spanish in college and managed to graduate without retaining a single word of the language. I did great on assignments and essays for the then and there and forgot it immediately after as I never planned to use it otherwise. Then I moved to Bocas. I’ve lived here for over two years now. Since Bocas is a tourist destination, it is easy to get by only speaking English.
Sure, there were moments every day I wanted to crawl into a hole because I was so embarrassed that I couldn’t understand what someone was saying to me. I picked up words here and there and context clues and hand signals were always a plus. I knew all along I needed to actually learn to speak and understand Spanish, so I studied at home a little every day. But when faced with speaking to someone, I would choke and sometimes end up back at home in tears.
I was completely frustrated at my lack of confidence and ability. This was most prevalent after the purchase of my business, when I needed to interact with bankers, accountants, attorneys, and municipal offices.
After months of returning from places like the bank upset and confused, I sought out the help of Habla Ya. I needed specific hours and direction for my classes and they were very accommodating. I initially signed up for 60 hours of private instruction, two hours each day beginning at 8am for one month. The first day was very reminiscent of any first day of school.
I was apprehensive but I was also excited to continue my education. When I met my instructor, Aicel Gonzalez, I liked her immediately. I knew from her demeanor she had the patience I needed. She listened as I voiced my concerns about trying to learn Spanish for a second time. Each morning I came in, she was prompt and prepared without being pushy. Aicel made each session fly by with precise explanations and devoted attention to my success.
After the first week I was introduced to a second instructor, Malkidia Garcia. I was uneasy about the switch to begin with but soon realized this could be a strategic advantage because now I would be forced to communicate with someone other than Aicel. Each day Malkidia and I focused on what I personally needed most, conversation.
I studied vocabulary and verb tenses at home with my daily assignments and the next day I would have to use the new words to speak with Malkidia. My vocabulary grew quickly and I was surprised at how much I could say when I was finally confident enough to say it. Sure, there were corrections along the way, but my fear had been conquered and I was speaking with ease. I look forward to continuing classes at Habla Ya later this year. It is a professional atmosphere with a well-educated staff.
The overall verdict? If you are ready to immerse yourself in the Spanish language, run, don’t walk, to Habla Ya and sign up today.