My twin passions are music and culture, so I studied music and modern languages in college, with a focus on piano performance and Spanish language and culture. Now as a performer and educator in music and language, I am guided by the following principles: be prepared, be patient, and be creative.
The value of these principles really came to light for me while teaching open enrollment EFL courses in Ecuador. The students ages ranged from 15 to more than 50 years old, so in this case the hardest task was developing content that would connect with all age groups. I prepared lessons within a relevant ethnographic framework as much as possible, incorporating current events and cultural topics that I felt might be of interest to everyone, in order to inspire more natural conversations and animated debates in the target language. The positive feedback I received in their private tutoring sessions and end of semester teacher evaluations reflected just how far a little creativity in lesson planning can go towards engaging students of all ages.
I also draw from my experiences as a music teacher to inspire language students with dynamic activities and practice pronunciation. These resources help with language learning in both directions. For example, ESL and EFL students enjoy focusing on specific English pronunciation problems with songs that are often already known to them, as many English-language songs are popular around the world. On the other hand, English-speakers learning Spanish get a kick out of learning new Spanish-language songs to practice pronunciation or memorize vocabulary.
My own journey as a foreign-language learner helps me relate to the trials and tribulations of my students, which in turn helps me create more impactful lesson plans and provide better individual guidance when students are having trouble. My first eye-opening experience was during a foreign exchange program in Mexico over my last semester in college. Before that semester I had considered myself fairly advanced in my ability to read, write and speak in Spanish. It was only when I spent time living in another country and interacting in that foreign language on a daily basis that I truly realized the levels of determination and practice needed to function in a new language.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: The University of Texas at Arlington - Bachelor in Arts, Spanish
Graduate Degree: CUNY Hunter College - Master of Arts, Musicology and Ethnomusicology
In my spare time I like to read literary and science fiction. When it comes to conjuring up the unimaginable, no one does it quite like H. G. Wells! I also play the piano of course, and enjoy practicing pieces by J.S. Bach, Chopin and Debussy. I’m working on my musical chops in jazz and self accompaniment while singing in English and Spanish, which is great fun. During the summer I love walking in the park, and for more active exercise my favorite thing to do is swim. Next on my to-do list? Yoga!