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Ms. Betty Lynn Snyder, a sixth-grade teacher at Forrest Park Elementary, in Pine Bluff, Arkansas is my most memorable teacher. She was a great teacher because she made us think, write, and create. In Ms. Snyder's class I learned about Shakespeare's sonnets, The Belgian Congo, Nigeria and conserving natural resources. She was ahead of her time: she was a Project-Based Learning (PBL) Queen! The independent project learning broadened my knowledge of the world and of myself. It was through Ms. Snyder's class that I became enamored of the story of diplomat and Ambassador Ralph Bunche. This was particularly important, because I was the only person of color in my class--before our schools were officially integrated--and she found a way to create diversity in our learning. Thus, I always felt comfortable in her classroom and, in fact, I was elected secretary general of the mock United Nations. As I recall, Ms. Snyder had two sons--one of whom was named Edward, after... read more

Greetings! Today's post is about learning styles. One of the most important things that helps teachers provide better instruction is the knowledge of a student’s learning style. My belief is based upon the teachings of noted educational theorist, Dr. Howard Gardner. Dr. Gardner posits that there are “multiple intelligences,” that define our individual learning styles and complement each other (by working together) through our learning processes. His 1983 book, Frames of Mind, detailed his initial findings in this area. In my educational practice, I attempt to identify my students' learning styles by doing extensive diagnostic testing in the very beginning. In my tutoring classes this may consist of having students to write a paragraph or two in the target language we are studying or work some basic math problems. Diagnostics also include inquiring about student preferences, because students generally do better in the areas that they like. After diagnostics, I set a plan that... read more

Greetings! Today's post is about romance languages. I love languages; more specifically, I love the languages in which there is a SVO (subject-verb-object configuration) and I love languages that have a lot of Latin (much of which is derived from Greek) cognates.*In short, I love the languages that were promulgated and dispersed by the many Roman conquests. In many of these languages, the word “bella,” means beautiful and “a, e, i, o and u” are vowels. As a college student, I learned that Latin and/or its derivatives permeate the English language via legal terms, literary references, mottoes and quotes, as well as in taxonomy classifications in the sciences and that having a strong knowledge of Latin root words can elevate one's study skills for the GRE, SAT and ACT exams. The phrase, “romance language,” refers to the following languages which we most frequently think of as Roman Empire-Latin language derivatives: French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, and Spanish. The term... read more

Greetings! Today´s blog post discusses the issue of learning culture when learning a language. The easy answer is that language is a reflection of culture...but who wants an easy answer? Seriously, language is a reflection of culture, because each culture provides variations to a language based upon its history and its people. For example, in the 1950's, the word "whatever" did not have the connotation of attitude and sheer exasperation that it has when it is said today. The pop culture of the last two decades has inserted many new words into the everyday speech of U.S. citizens, as well as those worldwide. Many of the words we use in general, today, as well as specifically for the study of mathematics, language and other subjects, have their roots in the Greek and Latin languages. As an example, let's look at one of my favorite words--"spa." (I'm especially thinking about the spa today, because I'm cold and I see snow.) The Greek and Roman tradition... read more

Greetings, Today's post deals with a subject that is a quite a controversial subject of discussion among students and their teachers. Generally, students would prefer for teachers to post their Spanish (or any other target language) vocabulary words and then to write the English translations beside them. Unfortunately, according to long-established research by Harvard professor, David Marzano, NLR or non-linguistic representation, in which teachers use pictures, drawings and symbols, as well as gestures and actions, is far more effective. For example, what do you think of when you see the yellow "golden arches?" I can tell you that, when I traveled throughout Europe or Latin America, I never had to see the McDonald's sign to know that I was nearing a place in which I could buy hamburgers. NLR is the same thing, basically! As teachers show photos or act out words with gestures, students learn to associate the Spanish word with a mental picture or a certain gesture... read more

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