Language barrier can be overcome abroad, author says

Language is the greatest obstacle for students studying abroad, an associate professor in English at DePaul University said.

During a question-and-answer meeting, student heard about Green Honors Chair speaker Michele Morano’s adventures abroad, and students voiced their concerns about international travel.

Morano, the author of “Grammar Lessons: Translating a Life in Spain,” said it is impossible to avoid embarrassment when studying abroad in a foreign country.

“I frequently swam while I was studying abroad. I remember confusing the words bathtub (banera) and swimsuit (banador) often,” Morano said.

The nightlife of Spain is where Morano said she learned to stop conjugating verbs and thinking about grammar and just began to communicate.

Not being able to ask for exactly what you want is frustrating at times, she said, but taking advantage of every opportunity to speak the language is the best way to become immersed.

Morano said she recommends students spend at least 12 weeks abroad, but a year is ideal to become accustomed to the culture and language.

Once Morano was well-adjusted to the natural pace of life in Spain, she said, returning to American life left her feeling lonely.

The U.S. and Spain live to a different beat, said Bonnie Frederick, a Spanish professor.

Americans live a life that is fragmented, frantic and inhibited by machines, she said, while there is a sense of community in Spain.

Tiffany Smith, a sophomore Spanish minor, said her concerns for living with new people will not stop her from studying abroad next summer.

Smith said she agreed with Morano when she said perfecting a language is nearly impossible because even native speakers will make mistakes.

Morano’s book is composed of 13 essays dating from her experiences in Spain, especially from those on her second time teaching in Oviedo, Spain.

Her book was recently listed on the New York Public Library’s 25 Books to Remember from 2007.

Morano is working on essays and a novel that are in the early stages of writing. Amid her writing, Morano is organizing a program for 40 students from DePaul University to study abroad in Madrid. She will speak again Thursday.

For Your Info

Who: Michele Morano
When: 4 p.m. Thursday
Where: Amon Carter Lecture Hall (Palko 130)
Admission: Free
A book signing will follow the event, and there will be a 40 percent discount on Morano’s book purchased at the event.
Morano’s biography, excerpts from her current book and dates of upcoming appearances are available at