Learning languages represents a long road that can be traveled in many different ways; rather than focus on the problems, I choose to enjoy this journey. My pedagogical style combines the knowledge of a second language acquisition specialist, the cultural awareness of a tireless traveler, and the confidence of a former civil engineer who discovered how the knowledge of languages and cultures represents an essential skill in this globalized world. Thus, my challenge as a professor is to nurture multilingual, successful world citizens on the professional, social and personal level.
My goal as a professor is not only to teach students the language structures that govern the Spanish language, but also to open a window to other worlds. Languages can be used as a means of discovering new cultures and increasing the knowledge of our own.
In my classes, I include opportunities to develop pragmatic competence, so the students are aware that the same utterance may change in meaning depending on the context. It is very common that advanced students who master the rules of grammar with ease still face communication breakdowns due to their lack of pragmatic knowledge. I experienced this situation frequently as a student of Arabic, and since then I am confident that the strategic and pragmatic competences must be covered in the foreign language classes. As a result of doing so, students discover through the social norms of their own culture, the differences and similarities of Hispanic countries.
The usage of grammar and vocabulary is always a part of the class that I enjoy because the students reflect on their own knowledge. The knowledge of vocabulary is essential to understand others and express our own ideas. For example, in lower level classes, when the knowledge of grammar can be limited, the knowledge of useful words and expressions can help a student to express an idea regardless of their grammatical knowledge. I use authentic materials and develop activities where the students are forced to produce output, so they can check their hypotheses and verify if they are able to communicate through interaction with other peers. Consequently, my classes are entirely taught in Spanish with expectation of active participation by the students.
The use of technology is always a reference point in my classes. Students are in contact with real input from different channels: video, audio and written texts. I agree with the scholars who consider that input is a critical variable for language acquisition. Therefore, my classes are conducted primarily in Spanish by using clips, movies or TV programs that put the students in contact with real input that has not been prepared specifically for foreign language learners. For example. I like to begin my classes with a short video of breaking news from a Spanish channel, so the students can discuss recent events and learn the terminology of these specific topics. I engage my students to be active participants in the classes where their opinions can be expressed freely.
In sum, I believe that the comprehensive manner I use to teach Spanish enables the students to learn about culture and the language linked to the Spanish-speaking world. In addition, my approachable personality promotes a good atmosphere in class where the students will enjoy the journey of learning a language.