General Competency One. The teacher understands the central concepts, tools of inquiry, and structures of the discipline(s) he or she teaches and can create learning experiences that make these aspects of subject matter meaningful for students.
Principle 1. Language teachers are proficient in the language they teach. They understand language as a system, how students learn a language, and how language and culture are linked. They are knowledgeable about the cultures of the people who speak the language. Using this knowledge, they create learning experiences that help students develop language proficiency and build cultural understanding.
(The drop of water breaks the rock not by its stength but by its perseverance.)
Becoming proficient in a language is an ongoing process. After my 20 year break from studying Spanish, I was excited to return to the formal classroom, and reacquaint myself with a language I love. It was a joy to attend Spanish “Intensive Writing” Spring 2011 at Southeast Community College with Dr. Amanda Baron. In that class I wrote about “Tribus Urbanas“–the effects of the modern age on youth, and also an essay about the Idealism of Che Guevera. After twenty years, it was amazing to feel competent, albeit rusty, in the language.
Following Krashen’s theory of “Sustained Silent Reading”, I try to spend five to fifteen minutes every day reading something in Spanish, drawing from an assortment of literature spanning from Animaniacs Comic Books, to Paulo Coelho’s Alquimista (“The Alchemist”) and my favorite, juvenile literature, like “Yo, Naomi Leon” by Pam Nunoz Ryan. “Adding comprehensible input” is an important element in language learning, and helps me to continue to grow in the language.
In 1987, I spent six months at the Universidad de Costa Rica, in San Jose, CR. Upon enrollment, I discovered that the expected classes of Spanish for Foreigners had been canceled for the semester, so instead I enrolled in Costa Rican Politics, which was something new for me, and an Oral Communication class. The challenge of giving speeches in Spanish to native speakers was an exciting one!
Over Spring Break this past year (2011), I spent a week in Oaxaca, Mexico at the Becari Language School. I have been interested in Oaxaca for a while, because it seems to me to be the origin point of many artists and artisans I admire. I enjoyed learning how weavers take wool from its natural state and process it and dye it and then weave it into gorgeous rugs. I also enjoyed visiting with the vendors of alebrijes. While I was there, the city was celebrating a children’s book fair, which was wonderful. I also was able to observe a spring parade of children including little Astrid, my hostess’s daughter.
Please click on the Reflective Practices and Professional Growth Tab to learn more of my plans for continuing to grow in the language.