The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the perceptions and behaviors of language learners and native speakers as they participated in collaborative learning activities to learn Spanish in a large suburban community college. In order to gain language skills, particularly speaking skills, students must be given opportunities to use the language and to exchange ideas. Collaborative learning strategies are a particularly effective way to create opportunities for students to accomplish this. For this reason, the use of collaborative learning techniques is common in foreign language education. However, there is a paucity of research done to examine the collaborative learning experiences of students studying a foreign language in a community college. Furthermore, little has been done to create opportunities for expert students and novice students to collaborate in the learning of language within the classroom. This study utilized the methods of collaborative learning to develop and implement a curricular innovation in which novice students (i.e., Spanish language learners) and expert students (i.e., native speakers of Spanish) collaborated to learn the language and cultures of the Spanish-speaking world. Over the period of one semester, data were gathered via participant observation and semi-structured personal interviews conducted of two groups of students: (a) Spanish language learners enrolled in an introductory Spanish course, and (b) native speakers of Spanish who served as language facilitators. The present study was unique in that it examined qualitatively the interactions and perceptions of students who participated in a peer learning experience based on the principles of collaborative learning as applied to second language acquisition. Using a grounded theory methodology, the findings from this study were examined to reveal four overarching themes: (a) the importance of psychological comfort, (b) students' desire for interaction, (c) scaffolding, and (d) validating experiences. Students expressed a preference for learning environments that foster a sense of psychological comfort, where they feel comfortable speaking, making mistakes, and asking questions of one another. Also, students expressed a strong desire to interact and make personal connections with their peers in the classroom. The findings from this study supported the notion that learning is a social process in which students learn via interaction and exchange with one another. Finally, the native speakers interviewed in this study described feelings of satisfaction when they were able to help their peers learn Spanish, and from the understanding that their peers valued their language. The findings from this study support Rendón's theory of validation (1994) and they highlight the importance of acknowledging the contributions students can make within the context of their learning environment. When students find that they have something to offer others, they feel a stronger connection to the college, and it reinforces their belief that they are members of the campus community.