I have many ardent interests in my life with educating children in foreign languages and cultures inciting the greatest passion in me. To sow and nurture the seeds that awaken in a young child interest in foreign languages and cultures brings to me great satisfaction. My attraction to the Spanish language comes from the cultural richness common to the people for whom it is their native tongue. Through my rigorous study of Spanish, I came to discover that the Spanish character shares much in common with my Russian character. A core tenet of my philosophy on teaching a foreign language is to first get the children to recognize what they share with a foreign people. Seeing what binds them to a different culture promotes a healthy respect for people and customs that differ from their own. I personally serve to illustrate how a non-native speaker can come to embrace and master a foreign language and culture.
A rule that I adopt in my class is the “no English” rule. I speak Spanish to my students at all times and expect them to also use exclusively Spanish. I have found that my students will master a language much more rapidly if they are prevented from using their native tongue while in class. If the class does not understand at first, I continue talking around the subject using familiar vocabulary until the students comprehend. Another tactic that I use to improve proficiency in a language is to have the students speak in complete sentences. Building raw vocabulary is important, but without the ability to join these words together to express thoughts and feelings, mastery of a language is just not possible. I never translate or lecture my students. Instead, I engage them in an interactive dialogue that is adjusted to their level of competency. To foster their desire to express themselves, I integrate topics of interests to the students (e.g. soccer, vacations, and food).
Teaching languages affords me lots of opportunities to do fun and creative activities my classes. To avoid monotony, I use my imagination to come up with original dialogues with which the students can relate. I use a very animated teaching style and try to create anticipation in students to keep them engaged. I often use games and songs with younger children. With older students, I integrate more cultural components such as music, customs, art, sports, clothing, etc. My older students will come to understand that language is dynamic and reflects the culture in which it is spoken, language is cultural. The history of Spanish speaking countries is also incorporated into my curriculum. I employ cooperative group work and activities to improve student participation and bonding. I often use friendly team competition to help to motivate students.
I graduated from the teaching University in St. Petersburg, Russia with a Master’s degree in foreign languages. The most rewarding period in my life was the four years after graduation in which I taught Spanish language and literature. I am a NJ licensed teacher of Spanish with over ten years of experience in classroom teaching. My last academic school year I was teaching at Community College of Morris and Huntington Learning Center.
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