Newsletter 2002
Our Students Become Teachers

Amanda's 7th grade Spanish I class at South Mountain Middle School

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 and 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