Why did you study to become a teacher of Spanish?
I studied Modern Languages back in Colombia and became an English teacher in 2010. In 2015, I went to Maine, United states, to work at a summer camp and met a girl that was learning Spanish and she kept asking me all these questions about rules in Spanish and I found myself unable to answer some of them. So I became really curious and started studying my own language.
When did you begin teaching Spanish?
I started teaching private lessons to foreigners living and visiting Colombia in 2016.
I was doing it as an unofficial job, because my full time job was teaching English to Colombian students. In 2017 I officially became an online Spanish teacher in an online language learning platform that pairs students from all over the world with native teachers of languages of their interests.
How did you start in Australia?
Soon after my arrival in Australia I googled ‘Spanish schools in Melbourne’ and I found El Patio and started following it on Facebook and saw in one of their posts that they were looking for a teacher. So I submitted my curriculum, got interviewed and was lucky to be offered a position to work with them.
What is a loveable aspect of teaching Spanish in Australia?
The curiosity and interest that some Australians and people living in Australia have to learn about Hispanic culture is a fascinating thing to me. Having people in class asking me questions about my culture is, indeed, a very lovable aspect of teaching Spanish here.
What is the most challenging aspect of teaching Australians?
When you are learning a language you will find yourself forced to learn or study aspects of your own language to be able to understand the one you are taking in.
It can be a challenge in the class for the students to understand some grammar features when they are not familiar with some terminology or rules on their own language.
Do you have any suggestions for how students can better prepare for each class?
Use what you learn as much as you can. I always tell my students that if they don't put into practice what they learn in every class they will probably forget it in the next few days. This can be tricky living in a non Spanish-speaking country, but if you are learning a language and you have a smartphone/laptop then you are in luck: keep yourself exposed to Spanish as much as you can: podcasts, songs, TV shows, movies, apps for learning Spanish, books.
One podcast I recommend for beginners is 'Spanish from Scratch' where they equip learners with phrases, vocabulary, and a decent base in grammar.
I also recommend 'News in Slow Spanish' for students to improve their listening comprehension and vocabulary. I particularly like this one a lot because they use real and current news happening around the world to practice Spanish and you get to choose your level (beginner, intermediate and advanced). Also you get to choose between Spanish from Spain and Latin America.
Also, don't underestimate the “deberes” in the book, they are a good way of reviewing what we do in class.
What do you think the best method for memorisation is?
In general, I believe that understanding what you are learning, followed by repetition is the best way to memorize information. And by relating the new information that you want to remember to your personal life.
What teaching methods do you like to bring to the classroom?
I like to include task-based communicative activities in my lessons. I try to give the students meaningful tasks where they find what they are learning is useful and realistic.
I normally try to do activities that involve students in real or realistic communication. For example role-plays where they have to use their own personal information and interests
Is there a common question that students ask about the acquisition of Spanish? And your answer?
Will people still understand me if can't roll my r’s? I can't roll my r’s, is that a big problem?
This a very common struggle of English native speakers when learning Spanish.
The rolled R is not exactly a barrier to communication. It might cause some confusion sometimes. Like if you say caro [r] instead of carro[rr]. But hey, it is all about the context. So yes, people will still understand you.
Also, there are a lot of tips and exercises on the internet (see video) to help you improve your R rolling. Have faith, I have met people that have learnt to do it just like a native.
These videos are from students in my Express 1&2 class.
This was the final project of the class. Students were asked to record a video where they had to talk about themselves, using the vocabulary and grammar structures studied throughout the course.
The videos were played in the last class. They had fun watching each other's videos and learning new things about their classmates.
This is an activity done in Elementary 2 class. It is a presentation where I model what I want the students to do. It is an activity in pairs that involves reading, writing and speaking.
This activity practises vocabulary and expressions about shopping, using the Chilean shop Falabella as an example.
(The texts the students produced are included here below verbatim, without any corrections).
Here are some of the questions the students responded to:
1) Presentación dirigida a los estudiantes en Power Point sobre Falabella.
2) En parejas, escoge una de las siguientes marcas/tiendas y busca información en internet. Escribe un párrafo corto (como el de la presentación) que tenga la siguiente información:
3) Socialización: Lee el trabajo de tus compañeros y toma nota para que formules preguntas. Recuerda seguir el ejemplo en ejercicio 2 para hacer las preguntas.
¿Cuántas tiendas tiene Falabella?
– Falabella tiene más de 100 tiendas en Latinoamérica.
Las siguientes son fotos del trabajo de los estudiantes durante la clase, y más abajo están los textos que escribieron, al pie de la letra, sin corregir:
'Ripley es una tienda, creada en 1956 en Santiago, Chile. Ripley tambien tiene tiendas en Peru, Columbia y argentina.
Tiene 52 tiendas en total.
Es una tienda minorista que vende ropa, video juegos, productos para el hogar y cosmeticos.'
'Leonisa es una tienda columbiana, creada en 1956. Es una tienda que venda ropa intima para mujer. la tienda web tiene presencia en más de 12 países y vende a más de 120 países, principalmente en los Estados Unidos, España, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, México, Panamá, Perú, Portugal y Puerto Rico.'
'Exito es una tienda columbia, creada en 1949. Es una tienda que vende muchos tipos de productos, como ropa y electrodomésticos. Tiene mas de 2600 tiendas. Esta presente en países como brasil, argentina, uruguay, venezuela, y por supuesto Columbia.'
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By Naira Arrieta Bracamonte edited by Penelope Ray
December 18, 2018
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