Image courtesy of Ruth Ann Moss

Image courtesy of Ruth Ann Moss

If you are thinking of graduating high school in Mississippi, you are required to take a foreign language.

For Ruth Ann Moss, her choice was Latin. After two years of wrangling with what she calls “a dead language,” Moss vowed to pick a college major devoid of language requirements.

But it’s funny the way things change; Moss became a Spanish major at Mississippi College. Spanish, she says, unlocked a whole new world of possibilities.

In her summers away from school, Moss interned at a medical clinic in Peru, studied abroad in Costa Rica and worked in a predominantly Spanish-speaking neighborhood in New York City. For the past two years, she’s taught Spanish for Jackson Public Schools at Davis Magnet Elementary.

Now, Moss, a Fondrenite, is putting forth an idea for a Spanish conversation group and it already has native and learned speakers in the area excited.  Find It It In Fondren wanted to learn more about her idea:

What is this Spanish conversation group about?
This group is an opportunity for people with some Spanish conversation skills (however basic) to converse with other Spanish speakers. The goal is to brush up on our Spanish and connect with fellow Jacksonians. I hope that the group will be a welcoming, encouraging place for Spanish speakers of all levels. I’m also excited to learn more things through conversing with others. Spanish varies so much depending on where its spoken and I love the idea of people with all sorts of different Spanish-learning backgrounds, speaking a variety of dialects, right here in Fondren.

How long have you been trying to gather this group?
The gears have been turning since early April. Due to scheduling and other commitments, we’re just now getting a formal time set.

What has the response been?
The response has been beyond anything I expected! When I first posted on a neighborhood message board to see if anyone was interested, I was hoping for seven or eight replies. I heard from almost 30 people, not counting those who I’ve conversed with about this outside of the internet. I know that chaotic summer schedules might affect attendance at this first meeting, but I’m really hoping we can have a steady group going into the school year.

Why do you feel there is a need for a Spanish conversation group in the area?
Language, like many other things, is a “use it or lose it” kind of skill. I wanted to start the group selfishly, because I feel like my own Spanish was slipping. I was highly proficient by the end of college, but after two years of teaching Spanish at a beginning level, I feel like my grasp on the language is starting to weaken. After putting the idea for the group out there, many people expressed similar feelings — people who did a couple of years in Latin America in the Peace Corps or minored in Spanish in college or something — and they realize that they’re losing it, too. Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the U.S. and being able to speak it conversationally is a really valuable, marketable skill to have.

Who can be involved?
Anyone who speaks basic conversational Spanish! I do think it’s important to distinguish that this is a conversation group, not a Spanish class. If you’re interested in learning basic conversational Spanish, there are several good options in Jackson (LingoFest and Millsaps Community Enrichment classes immediately come to mind). This group isn’t a formal instructional time for people who haven’t been exposed to Spanish, rather it’s a time for people to use the skills they’ve already acquired. That said, don’t be intimidated! If you can string together basic sentences in Spanish, come! Don’t let imperfect subject verb agreement or a lack of vocabulary hold you back. You can learn so much through conversation if you’re willing to work hard and be brave.

Give us the details on your first meeting…
Our first meeting is at 7pm on Tuesday, July 22nd. We’ll be meeting in the back room of Sneaky Beans. Please support Sneaky Beans by purchasing a snack or beverage on your way in.

Moss occasionally posts Spanish related topics on her blog,