Spanish in Marin FAQ's
- What is your teaching background?
- What are the benefits of learning a second language?
- Why learn Spanish in particular?
- Why the conversational approach?
- How do you teach grammar in a conversation class?
- Are the classes difficult? Will I be able to keep up?
- How do I know which class is right for me?
- Where do classes meet, and what is the cost?
- How do I register for your class?
What is your teaching background?I have been teaching in Marin County for over 15 years. Since 1985, I've offered a range of courses in the adult education program at Redwood High School, and presently offer courses at all learning levels at various locations around Marin. In addition to private tutoring and bicultural business consultation, I developed a specialized course, Conversational Spanish for Health Care Providers, which emphasizes medical terminology and interaction with Hispanic patients. I have taught this course as a five-level training at Kaiser Permanente, Marin General Hospital, and Petaluma Valley Hospital. I also taught courses for teachers of Spanish in the Kentfield School District. Over the years, I have worked hard to continually refine and develop my teaching method, and feel that I have come up with a highly successful conversation-based technique. Also, with ten class levels I'm able to offer the continuity of a complete learning experience. These higher level classes are seldom available at other schools, which typically offer only the basic levels of study.
What are the benefits of learning a second language?Many people want to learn a language so that they can have a fuller travel experience , or because their business is expanding into new markets. But in our increasingly shrinking, global world, knowing another language opens doors to broader perspectives, and gives us a window into a wider world. For adults, learning to speak and think in a second language keeps the mind active and expansive, and has been shown to improve memory .
Why learn Spanish in particular?According to the U.S. Census, the Latino population in the U.S. is expected to account for 44% of the nation's growth over the next 25 years. In the Bay area especially, where the Latino population is the second most populous ethnic group, learning Spanish is simply a way to fully participate in all that the Bay area offers , and to take full advantage of the richness and diversity of Latino life and culture.
Why the conversational approach?It's the most natural way to learn. It's the way that children learn language, and it's the way that I learned when I came to this country, constantly having to speak and make myself understood. I've used my personal experience in learning English — the techniques and exercises that worked for me — as a guide in developing my teaching method. Books and tapes are helpful, but there's no substitute for face-to-face interaction, with the ability to use the language in context, to repeat as often as needed, and to receive personalized attention and feedback. Even so-called “interactive” on-line courses have inherent limitations.
How do you teach grammar in a conversation class?I have kind of a “stealth” method for teaching grammar, so that it is built into the conversation in small increments where appropriate. The truth is that in order to make progress, you do have to learn the verb conjugations and proper usage. This is basically accomplished through methodical repetition of each element — each verb, each tense, each grammar construction — in varying contexts, including drills and simple exercises, in the course of class conversations. I use cartoon sequences to teach the basics at the beginning levels. Students enjoy these cartoons. Not only are they fun, but the visual connection to the grammar and vocabulary stimulates learning and enlivens conversation.
At the intermediate levels, students read entertaining detective stories based on the guidelines of a respected European accrediting organization. These stories, especially crafted for learning Spanish as a second language, offer a humorous slice-of-life insight into everyday Spanish life, romance and culture. Carefully structured at six levels of difficulty, each story introduces incrementally more complex grammar and vocabulary, along with sophisticated idiomatic usage. Advanced groups read works by classic and contemporay Spanish writers