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La Hora de Español Provides Supportive Community for Spanish Learners

By Alyssa Schnugg

News editor


If you speak Spanish and want to keep your skills honed, visit the La Hora de Español group every other Wednesday at Heartbreak Coffee on the Square.

The group was started more than 15 years ago by Senior Lecturer of Spanish Irene Kaufmann Cotelo, for her students.

“I decided I would like to do this for the whole community,” Cotelo said.

The group moved to the Oxford and Lafayette Public Library and everyone who wanted to immerse themselves in Spanish was welcome.

About four years ago, the group moved to Heartbreak Coffee, where they would be more visible to the community.

“We have students who studied abroad come and want to practice, and then we have people who are about to travel somewhere and want to practice their Spanish, and people who are just learning and just want to be around it,” Cotelo said.

The event is open to everyone, without a specific topic or agenda. Participants can come to listen, make friends, and immerse themselves in the Spanish language.

“This is a place where people come and make friends and just talk about whatever they want,” Cotelo said. “It is open to anyone interested in practicing their Spanish, regardless of their level. It has been nice to see people of all ages, backgrounds, and nationalities joining us.”

The group meets at 5 p.m. every other Wednesday. The next meeting will be on Sept. 20.

Ole Miss senior student of International Studies in Spanish Landon Bradley said he has been coming to the cafe’ for about a year. He said he attends the cafe to practice his Spanish outside of a classroom.

“You never really know who you’re going to be talking with, what level they’re at, or what you’re going to be discussing,” Bradley said. “So it really gives you a lot of practice, discussing different topics and using a lot of vocabulary, but also creating that community of second language learners in Oxford.”

Fellow senior International Studies in Spanish student Logan Baggett has also been coming to the cafe for about a year and says it’s been a great opportunity to improve his conversational vocabulary before he left to study abroad in Uruguay.

“It gave me a chance to use vocabulary outside of academic things that you do in a classroom, and you really learn how to connect with a new person, and that is a really rewarding thing,” he said.

Cris Surbeck, an Adjunct Professor of Civil Engineering at Ole Miss, started attending the group in the fall of 2022.

“I had a trip to Spain planned for December, so I started coming around September or October to practice my Spanish before the trip, and then after I came back, I just kept coming because it’s fun,” she said. “I love languages, and my Spanish has gotten so much better.”

For more information about La Hora de Español, visit the group on Instagram @elcafeolemiss.

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