Senior starts conversation groups for Spanish, French


Participants of all ages practice various foreign languages with each other at Thomas Ford Library (Almase/LION).

Dani Almase, Reporter

When Kylie Jabjiniak ‘19 initiated Spanish and French conversation meetings at the Thomas Ford Memorial Library, she wanted to create a venue for people to engage with languages and share their cultural curiosity. She got the word out to others about the meetings by putting information in the library newsletter and website in hopes people would join. Through LT, Jabjiniak talked with her Spanish teacher Lisa Plichta to get the word out to the students about these conversation opportunities.

“I really love the language, and decided I really wanted to push myself to become fluent,” Jabjiniak said. “One of ways to do that is to practice speaking, and there weren’t really a lot of resources in the community that I knew of that I could use. As a leader of the Teen Board [for the library], I figured we could do a language conversation group.”

The Spanish and French conversations are a casual and social group that meet at the Western Springs library, Head of Teen and Tween services Heather Booth said. The meetings are opportunities for people who are interested in expanding their foreign speaking skills.

“The goal of the groups is to encourage participants to feel more comfortable in speaking Spanish or French, and for the native speakers who join, to share their expertise and cultural background,” Booth said. “Personally, participating in the group helped me brush off my rusty Spanish and more easily communicate on a recent trip to South America.”

The meetings are held in the boardroom of the main floor of the library, and they are free of cost so anyone can participate. The ages of the participants vary, and there are usually six to 12 participants for each meeting. There is no time obligation, so people can join whenever they are able. Since the library has been under construction for the month of January, the meetings will resume on Feb. 3. Meetings usually held on the first and third Sundays of the month where Spanish conversations are held from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. and French conversations are held from  3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

“It made me incredibly proud to see [Jabjiniak] inspire community members with her Spanish,” Plichta said. “Kylie is such an effective leader that one of the older ladies, who is a heritage speaker, was so enthusiastic about the group that she wanted to start organizing field trips for everyone to have more cultural experiences and language practice in the Chicago area. The entire hour [of the meeting] was an excellent experience.”