Spanish Club Moderator, Spanish Immersion Trip Organizer
What is do you love best about Visitation?
The strong sense of community is incredible. It really is a wonderful place to work.
Which is your favorite class to teach and why?
It’s Spanish IV because it’s an elective course and the students are very motivated to learn the language and culture. I believe that if you’re passionate about learning a language, you really have to understand the cultural piece, too, so I have the girls do a lot of cultural projects throughout the year.
One of my favorite assignments is having students create a cooking video of their preferred dish from a Spanish-speaking country. The girls are really engaged and have fun making the video...but the best part is that we all get to taste their delicious dish!
What are the big-picture takeaways you hope to provide students?
I want my students to understand why it’s so important to learn a second language and all the many benefits that come from doing so. It broadens their horizons and deepens their cognitive abilities so that they, in turn, are able to interpret phenomena in more complex and multi-layered ways. It also builds intercultural competence and communication. In our increasingly globalized world, this can open up so many new opportunities, particularly in professions where it’s critical to be able to deliver your message clearly and convincingly to other parts of the world or to non-English-speakers here in our country.
How do immersion trips help languages come alive for girls?
Immersion trips provide students with an excellent opportunity to learn a language and culture firsthand. Learning a language should not just be about acquiring vocabulary and grammar—one must also be immersed in the culture, and what better way than to live that experience than in that native country? Being part of an immersion program really helps students solidify a second (or third) language and helps students better understand the doors that open as a result of this learning.
In what ways does our Salesian charism inform and inspire your work with students?
Our spirituality and its call to “Be who you are and be that well” inspires me to be my very best self each day and give all that I can. I truly love what I do and it’s an honor to work here with these young women and my colleagues every day.
John has taught at Visitation for over seven years. He holds a B.A. in Spanish Language and Sociology from Merrimack College and an M.A. in Spanish Language from Middlebury College.