(Let's speak Spanish!)
¡Bienvenidos a la clase de español!
(Welcome to Spanish class!)
A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR SPANISH TEACHER...
Hola... I'm Señora Schweitzer and I have the pleasure of teaching 7th & 8th grade Spanish. I am originally from central Illinois, but have now been living in Dallas for over 20 years. I love all things Spanish... the language, the variety of cultures, the music, the art, the FOOD, etc. I especially love any opportunity to travel to any of the 21 Spanish-speaking countries. Spain is probably the most near and dear to my heart since I did my study abroad experiences there in college (a semester in Seville and a summer in Madrid). I have additionally made it to 9 other Spanish-speaking countries and have loved them all! I am married to a wonderful guy named Kurt. We do not have children of our own, but enjoy traveling the world together. Aside from traveling and enjoying good food, I also love to run and be active. I have completed 7 marathons to date: Dallas, NYC, Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston (3x). I also love learning more about how the brain acquires languages, often presenting on language teaching strategies at conferences and workshops. This will be my 18th year here at St. Rita! I LOVE the SRS community and all of my fellow faculty members. It's like one big family and I can't imagine teaching anywhere else!!
IN MY SPANISH CLASSROOM...
For the past 14 years I have been actively seeking out and embracing SLA (second language acquisition) research to understand how the brain truly processes and acquires language. Because of this and the compelling results I've personally experienced, I have been implementing strategies that allow for more authentic acquisition of language (the way we learn our first language, with a heavy focus on input) versus the traditional grammar/vocab-driven format (which focuses more on rote memorization and forced output). I want my students to acquire Spanish and build the mental representation in their heads that will allow them to speak freely like they do with their first language. Loads of grammar rules and memorized words do not magically translate into fluency. The traditional method of teaching language historically treats language as if it were subject matter like history or science, when in reality it's first and foremost a skill. Expecting fluency to come forth from heavily focusing on grammar rules and lengthy vocab lists is like telling someone how to form all the notes on an instrument and then actually handing them the instrument expecting them to be able to play it (now that they know the rules). Language is a skill that must be acquired over time. Acquisition requires a LOT of time simply taking it all in like we did in the first few years of our childhood before we started to actually string together real & complex sentences in English. A name for this approach is TCI (Teaching with Comprehensible Input) or CI (Comprehensible Input-based) and is the result of years of studies rooted in the works of linguistic researchers James J. Asher and Stephen Krashen (among others). Some of the key techniques that I utilize are TPR and TPRS (collaborative/immersive storytelling) and lots of reading. This style of teaching aims to mimic a very comprehensible immersion experience. The teacher attempts to limit vocabulary while remaining fully comprehensible (through gestures, pictures, word walls, etc.) while telling compelling stories or leading the class through communicative tasks. This helps us to foster an environment that is heavily focused on listening, comprehending and ultimately speaking the language with greater ease as we build community together in the classroom.
COVID-19 & Spring 2020: ENGAGING in SPANISH CLASS "en CASA" (at home)
The coronavirus certainly forced us to change gears for the final quarter of the 2019-2020 school year. It also challenged us to get creative about how we connected with and engaged our students from a distance. One of the hallmarks of teaching language with comprehensible input-based strategies is typically the interaction and immersive experience that teachers aim to provide for students in their classroom. True language acquisition requires a lot of slowly, parsed comprehensible language interactions built around each class's/student's needs/comprehension level. How was I going to be able to translate that to e-Learning? How was I going to be able to continue to engage my students in language at the level I knew was most comfortable for them, so that I could help them continue to grow in their skills? Hmmmm.... How about through the culturally relevant use of a literally homemade "telenovela" straight from "mi casa" to their "casa!" And thus came about... "Bienvenidos a OTRO episodio de En casa con "Señora"..." It was a fun way to share a bit of my "life in quarantine" with students, in addition to the continued delivery of comprehensible Spanish for them. Lastly, it served as a means of remaining visible and present to students in that time of distancing and isolation.
I was and still am SO grateful for the amazing response and support of this St. Rita School and parish community have provided throughout this pandemic. From the amazing support when we had to go online overnight in the spring of 2020 to all the work they put in over that following summer in order to be able to bring students back to campus last fall... now more than ever, I'm proud to say "WE ARE ST. RITA!"
SRA. SCHWEITZER'S FAVORITE WEBSITES FOR SPANISH HELP
A terrific online dictionary which provides ample example sentences to ensure correct usage. Also, they offer a word-of-the-day and interactive language building activities.
Word Reference is a great online dictionary with lots of great examples of usage and a message board where you can submit language quandaries to native speakers who will answer back with their help and suggestions.
StudySpanish.com is a great site for getting extra help/tutorials on grammar topics of any level of study... there are also units on vocabulary with fun games to play.
A great online "Rosetta Stone" like program with good activities and lots of audible conversations.
A fun website to compliment any language learning with games and vocabulary building. They have a great app for your smart phone as well!! =)
Students will have online accounts and be able to access the story videos of their choice along with all of the games and nugget activities that accompany them. (p.s... I hung out with Señor Wooly this summer at my conferences!!)
Verbix is a great place for help with conjugating verbs... and not just in Spanish!
YOUTUBE VIDEOS by... Basho & Friends, Señor Wooley, Señor Jordan, Rockalingua, Kidsimmersion
SPANISH SYMBOL CODES - á é í ó ú ñ ¿ ¡ ü
The attachment to the right has the keyboard codes for creating acute accent marks, tildes, umlauts and upside down question/exclamation marks for typing in Spanish. Or you can try the following link: