After studying abroad in Seville, Spain during the spring
of 2001, I was so eager to share what I had learned with
as many other individuals as possible. There was no better
place to do this than in the area schools during my semester
of student teaching. Not only was my experience abroad an
enormous growing experience for myself as an individual,
but I improved my grasp of the Spanish language and culture
tremendously. I stepped into my first student teaching placement
with a newfound confidence in myself as a future teacher.
Keeping the attention of over 80 adolescents during the
course of a day is not an easy task, especially since this
was my first full-time teaching responsibility. One way
I managed, however, was to keep adding in my own personal
experiences to whatever they were learning. By spending
a semester completely immersed in the Spanish culture, I
was able to tell my own stories and show photographs to
the Level I and II Spanish classes that I was teaching.
In doing so, I found that the students' level of trust in
me as a teacher grew, and they began to respect my determination
to expand their interest in the subject matter.
Amanda in Seville with her American family and
Spanish host family
I believe that being able to use personal experiences to
emphasize cultural points is crucial, especially in the
earlier levels of Spanish; it shows students the relevance
and importance of learning about a culture different from
their own. I strongly feel that one of the major reasons
why my student teaching was so positive was the fact that
I had had the opportunity to experience the Spanish culture
first-hand. It increased my enthusiasm for the subject matter,
which is something that students can sense from a teacher.
Students began to ask constantly for more stories and show
more interest in the culture as a whole, rather than focusing
exclusively on the grammar rules in their textbook. This
to me was far more beneficial than having a high class test
average or a 100% homework rate-it showed that the students
respected me as a teacher and became interested in continuing
their education on the subject matter.
I know that not everyone has the opportunity to study abroad
student teach in their four years here at Muhlenberg,
but both the Education Department and the Department of
Languages, Literatures and Cultures are very helpful in
determining a schedule that allows both experiences. I strongly
recommend to anyone interested in teaching any language,
not just Spanish, that having the abroad experience and
personal stories to share increases the overall rapport
with the students and self-confidence as a future teacher.
Amanda Giannini, '02