Kiva Talty ’17: Inglés Como Segunda Lengua

Thu, 10/31/2013 - 9:15am
image upload by lreese

If life wasn’t busy enough for Kiva Talty, the Spring Hill freshman recently added another dimension to her college experience. On Thursday evenings, Talty, a rugby player and freelance photographer for The Springhillian, also spends her time talking with ESL (English as a Second Language) students from Columbia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Mexico, and Cuba.

Talty, who’s studied Spanish since the age of 4, plans to use her language skills in a career with the Peace Corps or similar nonprofit organization upon graduation. So, when Dr. Cory Duclos, assistant professor of language, asked his students to attend Thursday night tutoring sessions, Talty and her classmates welcomed the opportunity to help local immigrants hone their conversational, vocabulary, and grammar skills.

“For ESL students, being able to communicate stress-free and openly with someone from the United States, their new homeland, is an exceptional experience,” says Talty. “It helps instill positivity and optimism in their new lives.”

Dr. Duclos says the assignment also gives SHC students real-world context for lessons learned in the classroom. “It gives a better perspective of what life is like for immigrants and what it means to adapt to living in a new country,” he explains. “I am impressed with how easy it has been to get Kiva and her classmates involved in service-learning. They have shown that they are not only willing to complete the assignment, but that they are genuinely interested in working with people from another culture.”

Though many of Spring Hill’s ESL participants are from Latin America, others represent Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. The students’ diverse backgrounds and culture offer a unique frame of reference for Talty, who is exploring education, business, and international relations for her major at Spring Hill.

“Being able to connect on this personal level is amazing,” says Talty. “The ESL program helps me understand what my future career might be like if I choose to go into a field that involves secondary language learning.”

Though the Thursday night ESL conversations last only 30 minutes, Talty says the communication has been eye-opening. “The topics we discuss often depend on what interests we have in common. Some people will talk about shopping, family, or how they came to the United States,” says Talty. “Each person that I’ve talked with has similar reasons for coming to America—for better opportunities. They are doing their best to benefit their lives and the lives of their families.” 

Talty, from Glenview, Ill., says Spring Hill’s service-based learning focus made the campus very appealing. “It creates a really interesting environment that is dedicated to helping others and bettering the world,” says Talty. “That helped me decide that SHC was the right college for me. I also really enjoy the fact that people here are so genuine, that the school is small, and has a strong connection to Spanish-speaking areas and populations. I also love that there are palm trees on campus!”

In her free time, Talty enjoys hiking, discovering new music, and traveling. In 2011, she spent four weeks in Costa Rica, visiting Limón, Monteverde, Flamingo and La Carpio. In 2012, she visited Seville, Spain for two weeks. Earlier this year, Talty returned to Spain for a week and a half—this time to Orihuela.

Next semester, Talty hopes to become a representative for Serengetee on Spring Hill’s campus. Serengetee, a clothing company founded by college students, strives “to connect people to the globe through fabric while giving back to the communities that inspire [their] products.” She also plans to continue volunteering with local ESL students.

“I’m proud of Kiva and all of her Spring Hill classmates who have decided to work with the local ESL program,” says Dr. Duclos. “I know that, for many of them, it was a bit scary to think about trying to speak in Spanish with these students, but they have done a great job. It is my hope that these students will foster a love for language-learning throughout their lives so they can gain a greater appreciation for the rich array of world cultures.”


* In the featured website photo, Kiva Talty (on right) is pictured with ESL student Mirna Otero