While English as a Second Language, or ESL, classes are common on Long Island, there are also more opportunities for English speakers to practice their Spanish these days.
In addition to formal courses at local colleges, some public libraries offer basic language classes, such as the Brentwood Public Library's "Friendly Spanish" program on Friday mornings, where adults can simply show up for informal, two-hour sessions (631-273-7883, ext. 334).
But there also are some more organic, self-directed Spanish conversation groups, similar to my group at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock.
Through Meetup, a large, international network that helps people organize local groups centered around particular interests (meetup.com), dozens of Long Islanders have joined the local Spanish Language Explorers Meetup Group.
The group includes members with a wide range of fluency, from novices who want to improve their skills, to native speakers looking for opportunities to practice their Spanish. The group generally meets once a month at a restaurant or lounge, and members also can post comments and exchange information through the group's website. Membership is free.
At the Port Washington and Manhasset public libraries, local resident Alba Foreman facilitates two Spanish conversation groups. The Port Washington group (516-883-4400) meets the first Saturday morning of each month; the Manhasset group (516-627-2300, ext. 430) meets the third Thursday evening of the month. (The Manhasset Library also hosts French and Italian groups as well as a newly formed
The group is designed for people "who have a foundation in Spanish and want to practice,"says Foreman, but it still has members with varying levels of expertise.