Teacher and Student Tuesday!
Happy Tuesday, my dear GLNers! Now that it’s a new month, you know what that means–there’s a new edition of the GPS! In each edition of the GPS we feature a teacher and a student; read on to meet our teacher and student this month!
Featured Teacher – Andrés Henao
Learn the language and enjoy the culture with Andres!
Hi, I am Andres Henao and am originally from Medellin, Colombia. My story with the Global Language Network really starts with a song of a Cuban singer, which I sang at the Fall Languages Festival two years ago. After learning about GLN, I realized that I could teach Spanish and also take language classes myself, like Portuguese. Shortly afterwards, I started teaching Spanish for beginners with GLN.
The opportunity was great because I had the flexibility to teach creatively and break the regular standard of boring and grammar-heavy classes. I could develop a student centered syllabus, making it fun to learn. I created a personalized processes of teaching that incorporated cooking, playing, having outdoor classes, and, of course, getting a real taste for the Latino culture while learning the language.
It was a terrific experience for me because the GLN schedule worked well with my professional schedule. I could balance my work in social marketing and entrepreneurship at the Young Americas Business Trust, Organization of American States with my classes at GLN. Furthermore, it was a wonderful experience where I got to learn about American culture, make new friends, and network with different young professionals like me.
A few months before I started my Ph.D., I had to change my role from being a teacher, to being a teachers’ mentor. However I plan to start teaching again this summer and fall of 2012.
I feel really blessed and lucky because, through GLN, my passion for playing the guitar and sharing my culture opened a door that I could not imagine before. Even personally, my involvement with GLN really combated the feelings of isolation and loneliness that all travelers experience in a foreign country.
I leave you with my teaching philosophy: Teaching is like cooking, if you enjoy teaching, your students will enjoy learning! Hope to see you in the next Spanish class!
Featured Student – Anne Boucher
My name is Anne Boucher, I’m originally from Minneapolis but have lived all over the U.S., including living in the DC area for the past six years. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in languages, which I think started with wanting to understand the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs that I found fascinating as a child. I finally got the chance to formally study a language in high school and chose French. On a subsequent visit to France, being immersed in a foreign language and culture reinforced my desire to study more languages.
In college, I studied Russian and got to visit the USSR and practice another language. After college I studied Japanese and dabbled in community education classes that offered Hungarian, German, and Swahili and finally got to formally study hieroglyphs as well. I picked up some Spanish while living in southern Texas but wasn’t able to attend actual language classes until finding the Global Language Network (GLN) in 2010.
My first GLN class was Albanian. I loved it! I couldn’t believe I had found an organization that shared a mission so important to me – learning languages and understanding other cultures. It’s so important today to realize that communication breaks down barriers and increases understanding of other countries and cultures. Therefore, I think it’s wonderful that we have an organization like GLN that offers inexpensive classes in so many languages– particularly languages that aren’t often taught. I’ve also taken Chinese, Swedish, Turkish, Polish, and Dutch and have learned so much from each class and each teacher.
Last year I visited France, Belgium, and Holland, giving me the opportunity to continue using my language skills. I look forward to more travel and language adventures, thanks to the GLN.
I am sure that the classes that now are being offered, which include music, games, etc. must be enjoyble and a lot of fun when listening or participating in them, but I question their usefulness when you are in a street in one of the many busy Spanish-speaking cities. That’s when you require the old and boring “imperfect,” “subjunctive” and those hated conjugations of verbs. There is no other way to learn them than to study them hard or to live in a Spanish environment and avoid completely speaking in your native language (immersion). Grammar doesn’t have to be that boring if you use it in an interesting conversation and challenging the students to use it likewise. At the same time, you can make references to history, culture and customs of the Hispanich world. The most important thing is to make the students participate, making them talk, construct sentences useful in common situations. Most iimportant also is to make them lose their inhibitions, that old fear and embarrassment of making mistakes. The instructor must create an environment that encourages and gives them confidence to talk in the new language. One of my language reaches told me “if you want to learn it you have to study it.”
There must be a reason why there are a lot of books that teach how to speak Spanish correctly.
You raise an excellent point and in fact, you are describing pretty accurately what a GLN class is. Our thematically-based curriculum is designed precisely so that students learn how to communicate across practical topics (such as food, directions, etc.). Furthermore, at the heart of our approach is confidence: we strive to build students’ confidence in the classroom precisely so that they have the confidence to communicate once they are in the ‘real world’. That’s why our classes are student-centered and interactive: students have plenty of opportunities to practice what they learn.
Also, we create a comfortable environment that is conducive to learning. Games and interactive activities are an important component of our classes because they make the environment dynamic, engaging and exciting. And of course, music, dance and culture as a whole play an important role since language and culture go hand in hand.
Ultimately, and you called it, one must put the effort and study in order to excel. We provide the forum, we facilitate the learning process, we engage students, but in the end it’s up to them to make the most out of it by staying in touch with the language outside of class.