Courtesy of Abraham Arechiga
For many people Spanish language education ends after high school, however, San Diego State alumnus Abraham Arechiga and his business partner Alvaro Sanchez Diaz are trying to change that.
Together the two of them created Spanish55, a company that offers 55-minute Spanish lessons via Skype personalized to each client’s needs.
Arechiga first came up with the idea while at SDSU.
“I met a lot of people that wanted to learn Spanish but none of them gained conversational fluency which is what you need in the workplace,” Arechiga said.
After graduating from SDSU, Arechiga went to work for a financial services company and experienced first hand the challenges many financial advisors faced when trying to communicate with their Spanish-speaking clients.
“I thought, ‘why not create something that is tailored for busy professionals?’” he said.
At first, he and Diaz worked with SDSU students, mainly biology majors, and those interested in attending medical school.
Since then, Spanish55 has grown into a successful new business. In just four years the company has hired six Spanish coaches and has a large portfolio of success stories and testimonials.
The program begins with a 55-minute consultation where the student discusses personal interests, prior experience with learning Spanish, their fears and their goals. They are then matched with a coach that is best equipped to meet the client’s specific needs.
For example, Spanish55 works with many nurses in the San Diego area. These lessons focus on building a rapport with patients that speak Spanish and teach them the grammar and vocabulary for better doctor and patient communication.
“I feel many programs in a university are great but they lack the conversational aspects of the language,” Arechiga said.
Spanish55 provides busy professionals the specific language tools to help them with their job.
Arechiga said Spanish55 is unique compared to other language learning platforms like Duolingo and Rosetta Stone.
“It is a matter of creating this environment where the student feels safe and not afraid to make mistakes,” he said.
Students practice conversation with the coaches in a supportive and constructive manner so that when they go out into their workplace they are confident in their abilities.
SDSU Spanish professor Denise Anguiano echoed Arechiga’s sentiment.
“In order to have what we consider an active language or an active conversation you need to practice,” Anguiano said.
However, she feels that Spanish is not something that can be taught outside of a classroom.
“Spanish is a language class. It is not like history, biology or anatomy where if you are organized you can take by yourself online or by Skype,” she said.
However in the end, it comes down to the student’s own decision.
Undeclared freshman Sophia De Runtz is in her second semester of taking a Spanish class.
“I think it is cool that there is a company out there that offers this kind of service. If I thought learning Spanish would help me in my profession I would definitely use something like Spanish55,” she said.
To find out more about Spanish55, visit its website.