I have had the privilege to teach both English and Spanish mostly in post-secondary contexts over more than three decades. During that time, my philosophy of teaching has been constantly evolving thanks to the exposure I have had to many different educational environments in Argentina, the United States, and Spain among other countries. However, my approach is deeply founded on certain beliefs that have remained unwavering and that focus on the learner-centered classroom.
In 1996, I trained under the supervision of Ken and Yetta Goodman, who, early on in my career, instilled in me the love for learner-centered approaches and for teaching in authentic, richly contextualized, and functional ways. It then became clear to me that teaching is not about lecturing to students; it is about creating situations that promote critical thinking and meaningful ways of using the language. The subsequent research in the process of second language acquisition I have explored basically shares the same underlying tenets. For instance, Larsen-Freeman’s contributions have greatly aided my understanding of the significance of real-life tasks and meaning-making in language teaching, and various materials focusing on Task-based language teaching have provided the plethora of strategies I use in class on a daily basis.
Moreover, my work at an Intensive English Program in recent years specifically addresses university-level academic speaking and writing. I know first-hand how important it is to cater to the students’ wellbeing by maintaining low affective filters as they adapt to a host of new challenges. It is also essential, at the same time, to hone their academic skills to help them succeed in their individual academic and professional endeavors. As far as writing is concerned, I strive to emphasize the importance of rhetorical awareness such as audience, purpose, and appropriate language use, and to engage them in the critical reading of academic texts to develop their understanding and their writing skills. Furthermore, I firmly believe that process-writing strategies are crucial, and, therefore, I provide my students with plenty of opportunities to review, reflect on and edit their drafts by themselves and in small groups. When they explore research writing, I help them incorporate academic vocabulary, sources and appropriate citations as well as ways of finding their own voice as writers. Additionally, technology plays a critical role in my classroom as it is used as a tool to enhance reading, writing, and peer-to-peer collaboration. Through our blog, Language and Culture, my students have the chance to interact with each other beyond the classroom walls by posting journals and replying to each other. This has proved to be a very engaging and fruitful activity even at low-intermediate levels of language proficiency. As we have received replies from all over the world, these writing tasks rank high in student motivation to express themselves.
Ultimately, I am an advocate of a learner-centered approach that enhances students’ diverse skills and backgrounds. I make every possible effort to promote creativity and trust in the classroom and to encourage my students to achieve their potential. By doing this, I hope to help them become (or continue to be) accomplished and fulfilled members of the global community of today.