Director, Annapolis Language School
My background in Spanish is long and varied. After three years of high-school Spanish, I lived in Madrid, Spain for a year at the age of sixteen. Returning to Annapolis fluent presented a new challenge: how was I going to MAINTAIN my fluency?
A few years later I changed my major at the University of Delaware to Spanish in order to be able to live in Costa Rica for a semester. I had maintained my Spanish by befriending foreign students from Guatemala, Colombia, Spain, Mexico and Puerto Rico and living their culture day after day. I learned to dance Salsa and Merengue. I spoke so much Spanish those years that my foreign friends told me that my Spanish was better than theirs!! Grammatically speaking, they were probably right. I had FINALLY mastered the dreaded Subjunctive! (It only took me four years of fluently speaking Spanish for it to finally “click”.)
Immediately after graduation, I became a High School Spanish teacher. For four years I taught full-time. In the meantime, I decided to get my Master’s in Spanish and Pedagogy (how to teach a Foreign Language). While there, a lot of emphasis was placed on PROFICIENCY and THE NATURAL APPROACH and TPR. I walked away a better teacher because of that experience.
I continued to teach Spanish, moving on to the College Level after moving to Chicago with my Puerto Rican husband (another opportunity to practice my Spanish – yeah!). For the next decade, I taught every Spanish class available at a half-dozen colleges in Chicago, San Diego and Annapolis AND I raised four children.
All told, I have over 23 years experience teaching Spanish to High School students, College students, children and adults. All those years in the beginning I taught using the traditional methodology: textbooks, grammar explanations and verb conjugations. In 2005 I attended an ACTFL conference where Blaine Ray led a workshop on TPRS®, Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling. My eyes were opened — wide! Finally I had stumbled upon a DIFFERENT method of teaching Foreign Languages. Now, after four years of teaching using TPRS, I will NEVER go back to the textbook-driven methods.
This method combines TPR (Total Physical Response) with Storytelling and Easy Readings in a fun and natural way. I practiced the method on my high school students and my own children (who were 8, 3 and 3 at the time). All of them LOVED IT! Unfortunately, I couldn’t change the curriculum at the high school, so I was forced to put it aside.
Three years later, I decided that teaching Spanish to adults who just want to SPEAK the language is a priority. I am so excited to be bringing this technique to the Annapolis area. It’s hard to believe how many adults want to learn to SPEAK Spanish, not CONJUGATE it!!! 🙂
We are now in our 8th year of teaching adults at Zu Coffee and the classes are booming! Expect the unexpected in this class (it’s so much fun!).
For anyone who has ever said that they “just can’t learn a foreign language”, I can finally disagree wholeheartedly. This method mimics the natural way we all learned our native tongue. And we ALL learned to speak at least that language!