Galego Sen Fronteiras: Week 3 Review + Graduation

Galician class final day

Last but not least, here is my Week 3 Review of the Galego Sen Fronteiras Galician language course I did. If you missed my articles about Week 1 and Week 2, give those a read and get caught up! ¡Veña! ¡Imos!

Finally the third and last week of classes had arrived and for most of the students, this was more bitter than sweet. On the one hand it was exciting that we’d started to really grasp the Galician language. But on the other, the end of the course was quickly approaching which meant that all our new friends had to pack up and leave Santiago de Compostela on one-way flights across the world back home.

Of the 80-something students that participated, I was one of a handful that lived here and therefore stayed. I personally feel very lucky to get to meet so many cool people that pass through Galicia for programs like this, the Camino de Santiago, or for my job as an
auxiliar de conversación. But of course, it’s just as hard to say goodbye as everyone leaves.

So we made the best of this final part of the course and jammed as much fun as we could into this week! Here’s what happened during Week 3 and graduation:

(For more information, download the application guidelines PDF.)

friends at a restaurant


Luns – Monday

9:30-11:30 Theoretical grammar class

12:00-13:30 Conference: De falantes, non falantes e as súas circunstancias (Galician speakers, non-speakers and their circumstances), Valentina Formoso

16:00-17:30 Conversation class

The third week’s grammar classes didn’t get any easier as we continued learning adverbs and irregular stem-changing verbs. We also studied two tenses in Galician that don’t even exist in English or Spanishtalk about difficult!

For Monday’s conference our speaker was author Valentina Formoso who presented on a very interesting topic: Which language do Galicians usually speak?

If there is a question I get asked more than any other on my blog, it’s whether you can get by speaking Spanish in Galicia. Most foreigners or expats (like myself) looking to come to Galicia are always worried that without knowing Galician, they won’t be able to live here. The short answer is yes, Galicians do speak Galician AND Spanish and you’ll be fine communicating with people. But different areas prefer one over the other.

Valentina Formoso delivered a great explanation about how in most of the big cities in Galicia, Spanish is the dominant language. But in the small towns, Galician is most people’s first language. Like I discussed in the other two course reviews, past prejudices gave Galician a bad image and generations began teaching their children Spanish instead.

That really is a huge shame. Through this course I developed a deep appreciation for Galician, and honestly, I think it’s a more beautiful language than Spanish. I hope some day to speak it like the natives here.

Group photo outside university

Martes – Tuesday

9:30-11:30 Theoretical grammar class

12:00-13:30 Conference: A historia de Galicia a través da emigración (The history of Galicia through emigration), Isidro Dubert

16:00-17:30 Conversation class

What are those two little words that when said in any language class, make everyone’s stomachs drop in panic? Oh yeahoral exams!

The time had come for us to show all the hard work we’d put in this course by giving an oral presentation in front of the class. We each were required to talk for 10-15 minutes in Galician about any topic we wanted. Most people made a PowerPoint presentation to share photos and make the speeches more interesting.

The first few people to present talked about their hometowns in Italy and Poland, and another shared about indigenous tribes in their home country of Brazil. Once we got started, everyone quickly loosened up and forgot how nervous they were. By the end it was hard to get people to stop talking! We ran out of time so I had to wait till Wednesday to give my presentation.

In the evening I finished another mandatory writing for our grammar class: 200 words or less about “O meu primeiro…” (my first time doing something.)

Mércores – Wednesday

9:30-11:30 Theoretical grammar class

12:00-13:30 Conversation class

Finally it was my turn to present to the class. Unlike the other students, I decided not to talk about my hometown because honestly, I didn’t know how interested my classmates would be in a small town in Indiana. So instead I decided to talk about my current home in Noia, Galicia.

I shared why I came to live here, my journey of how I met my boyfriend, and invited anyone that wanted to visit to come since it’s only 40 kilometers outside Santiago. (One of my Brazilian friends did, and we had a great couple days on the coast.)

Overall my speech went well and I felt like everyone enjoyed it. And when I got my grade back, I had a 9/10! I couldn’t believe it! So of course my friends and I had to go out to celebrate.

Xoves – Thursday

9:30-11:30 Theoretical grammar class

12:00-13:30 Conference: O bilingüismo como terceira lingua (Bilingualism as a third language), Rosalía Fernández Rial

16:00-17:30 Conversation class

After finishing the last oral presentations in our morning class, we headed off to listen to the final conference of the course. Rosalía Fernández Rial, an author and poet, told us stories about experiences in her life when Galician helped her communicate in the world, outside of Galicia.

Ever heard people say that learning a third language isn’t so hard because your second language helps you?

Rosalía’s presentation “Bilingualism as a third language” was all about that and proved that it’s true. She had been living in a foreign country in Europe with roommates from all different European countries and she was able to use Galician to talk with them. Galician has similarities to so many other languagesSpanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, Catalanit makes learning another that much easier. Rosalía talked about how Galician doesn’t close Galicia off from the rest of the world, but rather opens doors and opportunities for its speakers.

This presentation really resonated with me. Galician is my third language, which Spanish helped me greatly to learn, and I’d like to go on to learn a fourth, too. Knowing Galician will help me do so makes me all the more confident in my decision to study it and happy I did this program.

Venres – Friday

9:30-11:30 Theoretical grammar class

12:00-13:30 Final Exam

On Friday morning we attended our last class and took the final exam.

The exam was 3 pages long, consisting of 6 parts. We were tested on verb conjugation, vocabulary gender, connective adverbs, adverbs of frequency, and use of those unique Galician verb tenses. We also had a full page interview we had to read and then reply to with our own thoughts and opinions. It took me nearly an hour and a half to finish.

And just like that, we had completed the Galego Sen Fronteiras Galician course. At times the class went slowly or was downright terrifying, but really the whole experience flew by insanely fast. I had the time of my life and definitely was sad it was already over.

Luns – Monday

10:00-11:00 Final scores and exam review

11:30-13:00 Graduation from the course, Concert

Galician course group photo

On Monday morning everyone met to receive our final grades and have a look at our exams. We got a mark for the written exam, oral exam, and class participation. Since I had started three weeks earlier with almost no knowledge of Galician or ability to speak it, I was beyond proud to pass an intermediate level Galician course, and with high grades!

To commemorate our hard work in passing the program, the Xunta held an ending “graduation” celebration for us. In attendance was one of very first students to ever complete the Galego Sen Fronteiras course 30 years ago, Takekazu Asaka, from Japan. He gave a short speech about what this program meant to him and how he still represents Galicia as a foreign ambassador today. His two colleagues Miho Haga and Yukiko Yamagami put on an opera-style concert as we received our certificates.

Galego Sen Fronteiras ending celebration

As a perfect end to an already awesome experience, my novio/mozo Dani came into Santiago and we watched the Día de Galicia fireworks from Alameda park with friends from the program.

En fin, the Galego Sen Fronteiras course was more than worth it if you’re interested in Galician and living in Santiago de Compostela. If you’re deciding if you should sign up, I fully recommend it.

Ata logo, e vémonos o ano que ven!

Thanks for reading! As always if you have any questions or want to chat, leave a comment below. Happy travels!

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I'm an American expat living in Galicia. I want to inspire travel, learn a dozen languages, and try every food in the world.