LSU Seminar Helps Students Who Wish to Teach In Spain
BATON ROUGE – This past August, the Spanish Resource Center at LSU hosted the second annual Seminar for Returning and Future North American Language and Culture Assistants Program in 310 Peabody Hall. This program was designed for anyone with intermediate or advanced Spanish language skills who also holds a U.S. or Canadian passport, is a native English speaker, and is either a junior or senior college student or graduate. Participants travel to Spain to serve as English language assistants to teachers in K-12 public schools, teaching English as a second language for a full school year with the opportunity to return for a second year.
The seminar’s presenters were Terri Hammatt, foreign language program consultant in the Louisiana Department of Education; Beanka Brumfield-Williams, East Baton Rouge Parish coordinator of alternate certification and new teacher instruction; and Paula Summers Calderon, LSU College of Education adjunct methods instructor for French and Spanish secondary education majors and the college’s coordinator of assessment and accountability. They provided information on teacher certification opportunities and programs at LSU and career possibilities at LSU, East Baton Rouge Parish, and other Louisiana schools.
Those who have completed the program shared their experiences with the prospective teaching assistants. For Cynara Jackson, 35, of Oakland, Calif., the program was more than an opportunity to travel.
“All of my life, I longed to travel to Spain, and throughout undergrad my desire to live there lingered,” she said. “I wanted to be more knowledgeable of Spain’s history and people firsthand so I would be able to educate communities here in the United States of Spain’s richness. Through this program, my dream of venturing off to Spain finally came true.”
While living in the picturesque village of Posadas, 20 minutes outside Cordoba, Jackson worked with students, ages 12 to 18. Though she spent hours educating them each day, she insists that the teaching experience was never one-sided.
“We formed an intricate cultural exchange,” she explained. “They outlined an itinerary for me, where to go and what to see in Southern Spain; and I shared my knowledge base of North American customs and traditions with them. My little town embraced me with open arms, and my students were very receptive to me and my culture.”
“The seminar was very helpful,” said Jeseka Jones, a 24-year-old Southern University graduate, who will be traveling to the Castilla La Mancha region of central Spain in October. “Listening to everyone’s experiences just added to my excitement, and I can’t wait to get started.”
Jones is hopeful that her experience will be as rich as Jackson’s. She anticipates that her time abroad will not only be educational and beneficial to her future career plans, but also eye-opening on many levels.
“My future goal is to be a Spanish teacher, and although I have studied the Spanish language my whole life, I still am not as fluent and confident as I would like to be,” she said. “I expect to learn lots of Spanish and hopefully more about myself as well.”
Jackson, who returned to the United States in June, confirms that the program met her expectations, explaining that her time in Spain was much more than simply helping Spanish children learn English.
“Traveling to Spain not only optimized my proficiency in speaking Spanish,” Jackson said. “It broadened my worldview, nurtured my cultural sensitivity and afforded me the opportunity of continuing my global education. The world is getting smaller and more connected. Foreign language is a pathway, which bridges the gap between cultures. When two people can actually communicate in the same language, a global bond is formed. Teaching a foreign language to students serves as a conduit, which solidifies this bond.”
Calderon hopes that such programs will provide future educators with the education and experiences needed to nurture and grow the foreign language teaching field. She spoke with returning and outgoing students at the seminar about how they may become certified teachers and provided information about the college’s own foreign language programs.
“There is a nation-wide shortage of language teachers in K-12 schools,” said Calderon. “I enjoy the role of advocate and advertiser for these programs and hope to encourage these students to enter the teaching profession.”
The purpose of the Spanish Resource Center at LSU is to support Spanish teacher education, providing educational guidance, bibliographic information, workshop organization and materials development and distribution, and to organize and/or promote cultural and artistic activities related to the Spanish language and Hispanic cultures.
For more information about the Spanish Resource Center at LSU, contact Pina Calvo, technical advisor for the Spanish Embassy, at 225-578-5039 or visit http://www.educacion.gob.es/eeuu.
For more information about the LSU College of Education, visit www.lsu.edu/coe.