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Second-language city



The Shakespeare wall o' words at Colorado College's Cornerstone Arts Center is a great conversation-starter, especially if you're looking at it with an Anglophile. A few weeks ago, I was staring at it with a co-worker, making chitchat while waiting for an event.

Somehow, we took a left turn from "farmhouse" — Did you know that was one of the Bard's neologisms? Neither did we — and ended up in parts foreign. She was bemoaning the death of her efforts at learning Portuguese, while I was wondering how I was going to keep my French from ending up in le merde during a hiatus from teaching.

First-world problems, amirite?

Well, no, actually. Turns out there are myriad ways to feed a xenolinguistics habit in Colorado Springs. Imagine my joy when someone pointed out that there are actually local drinks parties dedicated to showing off your foreign-language skills. Curiosity piqued, we went looking, and found a whole lot more.

The ivory tower of Babel

Between Pikes Peak Community College, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and Colorado College, those with flexible schedules and cash for tuition can babble to their hearts' content in American Sign Language, Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, Greek and Latin.

Course availability at PPCC (various locations, ppcc.edu) varies by semester, but class times and campus locations offer greater flexibility. UCCS (1420 Austin Bluffs Pkwy., uccs.edu) complements its courses with a Language Technology Center that boasts speech-recognition software, proficiency testing and reference materials in addition to tutoring. CC (14 E. Cache la Poudre St., coloradocollege.edu) partitions its offerings into three separate departments: one for French, Italian and Arabic, a second for German, Russian and East Asian, and the third for Spanish languages. The school also hosts free regular showings of non-English films.

Language à la carte

Enjoying foreign language here doesn't have to be purely academic.

The Colorado Springs Chinese Language School is a nonprofit dedicated to Chinese linguistic and cultural education for all ages and ethnicities through a variety of classes and programs, ranging from summer day camps to adult language courses. A full PDF course catalog, including locations for upcoming classes, is at cschineseschool.org.

For more than 35 years, GlobeLink (802 S. Tejon St., 532-0300, globelinkservices.com) has served businesses, government agencies and individuals here with instruction in more than 50 languages. It offers academic credit for their courses in Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, Italian, Korean and Portuguese via the Extended Studies program at UCCS.

The Colorado Springs French Language Meetup (meetup.com/french-165) takes place at 6:30 p.m. on the second-to-last Wednesday of every month at D'Vine Wine (934 Manitou Ave. #108, Manitou Springs). Meetups average about 25 attendees, including both native francophones and francophiles alike, and attendees are asked to bring appetizers to share.

Meanwhile, the Colorado Springs American Sign Language Meetup Group (meetup.com/The-Colorado-Springs-American-Sign-Language-Meetup-Group) posts programming less regularly, but still boasts 178 members. The group welcomes students, parents, teachers, interpreters and community members, but expects basic proficiency in ASL.

At the Pikes Peak Library District (various locations, ppld.org), library-card-holders can check out a variety of language-learning CD sets, from Gaelic to Hindi and everything in between, but they can also access the Mango intuitive language learning program free directly from ppld.org — it's computer-, iPad- and iPhone-compatible. Supplement your electronic learning with monthly Japanese and German conversation group sessions at East Library, or by getting involved with the PPLD Adult Literacy and ESL program at Penrose Library, which currently works with Springs residents hailing from 89 different countries.

Learners looking for help on a less formal, more individualized basis can start with tutorspree.com, languagetrainers.com, the Colorado Springs page on eBay Classifieds, Clydesdale Coaching (1331 Vondelpark Drive, clydesdalecoachingonline.com) and the Peak Language Institute (peaklanguageinstitute.com).

Learn and teach English

School District 11's Adult and Family Education Program at Irving Educational Center (1702 N. Murray Blvd., 328-3000) includes free and fee-based morning, afternoon and evening English Language Learning (ELL) classes. "Family literacy is free for anyone in District 11 through Title 1, and our adult ESL and GED classes are offered to anyone in El Paso County for about $1.67 a class, or a $50 fee per semester," says Melissa Burkhardt-Shields, director of adult and family education. "We also have a volunteer program for anyone who is not able to pay the fee."

The D-11 program serves several levels of students, ranging from those with no English whatsoever, all the way to career training for newly minted bilinguals. "After folks have gone through the [ESL] system, they are encouraged to go on to get their GED," says Burkhardt-Shields. "Our career pathways model, which we just started, gets students into the travel tourism industry where they can work while earning college credit with the goal of getting their hotel lodge management certificate."

ESL classes are also available on Sunday evenings at Village Seven Presbyterian Church (4055 Nonchalant Circle South, 574-6700), and through the English Language Institute at PPCC (5675 S. Academy Blvd., 540-7047), which specializes in English language acquisition for international students and workers. Academy School District 20 offers ESL programming on an as-requested basis — call 234-1200 for current availability.

Meanwhile, if you're interested in honing your foreign language skills by teaching English as a Second Language, both UCCS (255-8227) and the University of Phoenix (262-3000) have programs for TESOL/ESL certification. Family Immigration Services of Catholic Charities of Central Colorado (228 N. Cascade Ave., 636-2345) is also currently seeking volunteer teachers and teachers' aides for its ESL program.


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