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Teaching Spanish

Professional Spanish language classes to undergraduate, graduate, continuing education, and non-traditional students resulting in students’ acquisition of reading, listening, oral, and written skills.

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Learning a foreign language always opens a new door to the world!

Profesora de español

I am a motivated and resourceful professional with extensive experience in translation, interpreting, education, and solid experience in collaboration with individuals and groups across various cultural, religious and economic backgrounds.

I believe that my professional expertise in Spanish language, literature, and culture, as well as my teaching experience of beginning through advanced levels of Spanish and Latin American culture, civilization, literature, and film, make me an effective Spanish instructor.

¿Hablas español?

          Over the past ten years I have had the privilege to teach, coordinate, and design various levels of Spanish and English to undergraduate, graduate, continuing education, and non-traditional students resulting in students’ acquisition of reading, listening, oral, and written skills.

          In 2013-2014 I taught Intermediate (SPAN201) and Advanced (SPAN301 – Spanish Grammar and Composition, SPAN303B – Spanish Conversation for Business and Health Professionals) Spanish courses to graduate and undergraduate students at Iowa State University of Science and Technology, U.S. In 2012-2013 I taught Intermediate (HISP 0300) and Advanced (HISP 0400) Spanish courses to graduate and undergraduate students at Brown University, U.S. I was also supervising writing in Spanish HISP 0730 and 0740 courses, which serve as an introduction to all periods of Latin American and Peninsular literature What is more, I also taught Spanish and English as second languages in primary, secondary, high schools, and companies in Spain and Poland. 

          I also have experience teaching and designing courses online; I am familiar with “Blackboard”, “My Spanish Lab”, and “Canvas”, which are online resources used at U.S. universities, and “Moodle”, a software package for producing Internet-based courses and web sites, used at Spanish universities, for example, the University of Salamanca where I studied. My responsibilities span from teaching and assessment, to design and development of course materials, to language course and program development – a variety of duties which I greatly enjoy and attend to with care, interest, and enthusiasm.

          Having designed and developed teaching materials, I apply technology to language learning and utilize it as part of in-class instruction. I am eager to develop superior courses with innovative content and enable students to use media as an integral part of active learning with the aid of videos, blogs, films, and other Internet resources in structured learning tasks. I currently teach an advanced level course of Spanish, where I use a blog not only as an organizational tool for course materials, but also as a repository of cultural realia for learning, interactive communication, and student enrichment. The blog is co-developed by the students and myself together.

          I greatly enjoy teaching languages, seeing the progress of my students, and helping them achieve their goals. I am stanchly committed to my students, and I possess a strong and consistent desire to pursue excellence as an instructor, mentor, and supervisor. I believe in providing students with optimal opportunities to reach their highest potential and attain personal fulfillment. I feel confident that my work experience, combined with my dedication, creative abilities, nurturing attitude, and patient manner, will allow you to make the most progress in learning Spanish.

Intercultural Communicative Competence

Due to the globalization of the Spanish language, which nowadays has approximately 570 million speakers, approaches to foreign language teaching have recognized the need to prepare its language learners for interactions with native speakers of the target language. Research studies in the areas of cross-cultural and intercultural communication have identified the Intercultural Communicative Competence as one of the skills needed for such interactions.

However, today’s foreign language classrooms are still confined to the use of textbooks, which have not fully incorporated research findings from the area of cross-cultural and intercultural communication. To address the lack of materials, attempts have been made to guide language educators in preparing learners for intercultural interactions, such as the goals outlined in the National Standards document (ACTFL, 2013). I also aim to develop innovative Intercultural Spanish language materials and introduce them in my courses.

Philosophy of Teaching Statement         

          My personal journey with foreign languages began in early childhood and continued through school and later during my emigration, within the context of school and life abroad. With each language I learned, I gained a new perspective on life and the world around me and acquired a new way of defining myself as an individual. Today, a speaker of four languages, I consider knowledge of a foreign language a privilege and enrichment to a person’s life. These very important facts influence not only the way I look at multilingualism but also my teaching philosophy. So far, during the course of my graduate studies, I have had the privilege of teaching language courses, both Spanish and English.

          I see foreign language classes as a wonderful opportunity for young people to familiarize themselves with a new language and culture. As someone who effectively acquired more than one foreign language, I strive to help my students to become successful language learners.

          When I step into a language classroom on the first day of class, I hope to be able to transform an obligatory language course into a valuable and unforgettable learning experience for my students. I hope that by sharing with them my passion for languages and my own experiences as a language learner I can inspire them to take full advantage of this learning opportunity. I also wish to share the phenomenon of speaking another language fluently. Gaining fluency in a foreign language, however, can be a long journey, one that requires a lot of work on the students’ part but also from a language instructor. Aware of this fact, I make a great effort to facilitate this process for my students and try to provide them with all the necessary conditions they need to succeed.

          I approach teaching as a wonderful opportunity to be of service to others. I am always well prepared, present and alert in class. I am attentive to my students’ work, their performance in the target language, their struggles and successes, and I make sure to make myself available also outside of the scheduled class time or even office hours. What I hear from my students is that personal interaction helps not only in getting to know them better, but also in understanding their learning styles, addressing their questions and learning issues from yet another angle, and finally, in helping them find the motivation they need.

          I strongly believe in the importance of creating a learning-conducive atmosphere in class, especially in language classes. Since much of language practice takes place during various activities, I encourage my students to get to know one another, to work in pairs and groups, and to interact with all classmates. During these seemingly trivial activities, as we try out new grammatical forms, expressions, and vocabulary, we talk about ourselves, our areas of study, interests, hobbies, likes and dislikes, even families and at times personal circumstances. We get to know one another better on a more personal level and develop a sense of community and of comfort, which helps everyone to learn and work more efficiently and without unnecessary stress and pressure of unfamiliarity with those around.

          Teaching Spanish, I have the rare opportunity of teaching the same group of students for the two semesters of the first year of the language sequence. This fact has impact on the class dynamic and at the same time on my approaches to teaching. By paying close attention to the progress each of my students makes, I am able to nourish their strengths and help them work on their linguistic weaknesses. In my first semester of teaching at Brown University, one of my students felt overwhelmed with Spanish and came to tell me she would be switching to French instead. I told her I understood and respected her decision but I would be sad to see her leave. We met every week to help her successfully finish HISP 0300. She worked very hard and put a lot of effort into learning the material and in the end she completed all two semesters of Spanish. The reason she gave me for staying was camaraderie among classmates and support from the instructor.

          My teaching methodology so far, supported with professional training, new methodologies, and input from peers and supervisors, needs to be flexible. My teaching style and method ought to be adjusted to the learner audience, rather than fixed on textbook convictions and a strict curriculum. I have come to recognize that in order to be a good instructor I need to be aware of my students’ learning pace both individually and as a group. Also, some grammatical issues tend to be more complex than others. Being aware of this fact, I often alter the amount of time allotted for a particular grammar topic, knowing that successful language learning entails not only systematicity but also a good grasp of the language structure.

          The better I know my students, the better I can identify the moment when my instruction fails to be informative and effective and take action to rectify it. In order to make sure that the material is understood, I give short written exercises or elicit brief explanations from the students themselves. I make sure to always check whether anything needs repetition or more practice, or even a different angle of approach. Many of my students comment on the usefulness of the supplementary worksheets and handouts I create. In class as well as during the review sessions my students have an option of working either in pairs, small groups, or individually. Working in pairs or small groups is, I find, particularly helpful, as students also learn a great deal from their peers. The combination of activities (reading, speaking, listening, and writing) not only addresses the four aspects of language learning, but also allows each of the students to see which of these modes appeals to their personal learning styles. While repetition provides for good language practice and reinforcement of the material, to be a successful language learner, one must develop one’s own language learning skills. I strive to give my students a chance to do so.

          Foreign language instruction cannot be divorced from the culture of the language. It is important for me to include cultural elements into the language curriculum and to help students discover the two simultaneously and to make connections between them. The use of even the simplest authentic materials, such as magazine advertisements, children’s cartoons, newspaper headlines, or popular songs, gives a language class a different, perhaps less textbook oriented character, and promotes exposure to the target language use in its native context. Short biographies of famous personas such as also generate a lot of interest among the students and are a wonderful way of weaving in culture with language. Oftentimes students’ personal interest in Spanish or English music, literature, or even politics develops in my language class, leading them to declare a major or a minor in Spanish or English studies and provides yet another incentive to learning the language successfully.

          Teaching is a rewarding and enriching experience. It is also demanding and carries with it many responsibilities. My duties often extend beyond the classroom and lesson planning. While an instructor by definition, I often find myself in a position of an academic advisor, mentor, and sometimes even personal counselor. For these reasons, this many-sided appointment can at times be challenging. However, the trust and confidence students place in me while sharing their personal joys and worries alike are a proof that my positive attitude towards teaching is as important as my devotion to students.

          I have already learned a great deal from my students and continue to do so and to improve. Their questions and feedback help me to be perceptive and flexible, to constantly strive to provide high quality instruction and interesting activities. But they also teach me an invaluable lesson – the more I care about them the easier it is to become a good instructor. I make a point of devoting attention to each student in my class individually, not just to the group on the whole. I want them to be successful language learners, not just to get credit for the course. Evaluation comments such as the following let me know that students recognize my efforts and values: “Magdalena is a caring instructor and most importantly responsive to her students. She goes out of her way to create a great atmosphere for learning.” “She is very balanced between teaching and being a compassionate human being.”

          The rewards of this profession by far outweigh its difficulties!

Do you know that…

the Spanish language

already has

570 million

speakers!

Free Spanish Resources

  1. Grammar

It is a pleasure to write a letter on behalf of Magdalena Baranowska. Ms. Baranowska joined the faculty in Hispanic Studies at Brown University in September 2012. From my perspective, from the beginning Ms. Baranowska has shown a special ability to adapt and adjust to a new setting. She is very prepared for class, seeks to understand students and goes out of her way to facilitate students’ learning. She seems very attentive to students’ needs, their difficulties, and their strong and weak aspects, and acts quickly when she sees that teacher’s intervention is needed to secure student support. She comes to us with much training in English and Spanish Philology, and ample training and experience in translation and interpretation. Her studies have included courses in pedagogy and methodology, as well as courses in cultural mediation. She is currently working on her Ph.D. in Languages and Cultures in Contact and is very interested in language pedagogy and language instruction. She has received several awards for excellence in teaching as well as scholarships. From my conversations with her, her intelligent questions and her genuine concern with students’ learning, I am positive that she is a promising instructor and this combined with her pleasant personality and quiet demeanor, makes Ms. Baranowska a desirable candidate in any department dedicated to Literature, Culture and Language.

Nidia Schuhmacher,
Senior Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at Brown University

It is a pleasure to write recommending Magdalena Baranowska, an excellent Spanish teacher and interpreter with whom I had the pleasure to work during the spring of 2013. She represents an exemplary balance between teaching acumen and proven linguistic ability that complements her hard work and willingness to assist in her community. Below, permit me go into more detail as to why I recommend her to you so enthusiastically. I first came to appreciate Magdalena’s abilities in the fall of 2012 when she first came to work as a Teaching Associate in the Department of Hispanic Studies at Brown University —where I am a Visiting Lecturer. When I met her 1 was very impressed not only by her enthusiasm but her multiple language skills and teaching competencies. She proved since the very beginning of the school year to be trustful professional and an admirable hard worker. During the spring semester of 2013 I had the great opportunity to work closely with Miss Baranowska. She was assigned by the Department of Hispanic Studies to assist me as a writing aid for my students of the survey of Spanish Literature that 1 taught. The course was designed to read and comprehend a wide range of authors and major works of Spanish Peninsular Literature from the Middle Ages to the 20th Century. Magdalena met with students regularly to help them improve their academic writing abilities since they had to tum in three papers during the semester. All of my students that met her for help were not only very happy with the results, but especially confident about the skills that Magdalena passed on to them. Magdalena is an ideal candidate for any Spanish department. Also, I think you would find in her a collegial and generous member of a community. She is engaging and inclusive in conversation and discussion, and is the first to make sure that everyone is comfortable and at ease.

José Ramón Ortíz,
Visiting Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at Brown University

Magdalena is highly intelligent, mature beyond her years, and enthusiastically dedicated to learning everything she can about the American and English, as well as Spanish and Latin American language, literature, and civilization. She possesses a thirst for knowledge and a work ethic found in very few graduate students. Her Honors and GPA, multiple, successful academic experiences, and her demonstrated excellence in English and Spanish all attest to the fact that Magdalena is an exceptional graduate student. At no time is Magdalena ever satisfied with her growing English and Spanish proficiency or her impressively high grades. She always looks to improve and learn more. She has chosen to move to the U.S. and teach Spanish to graduate and undergraduate students at the prestigious Brown University. As a result of her hard work, high intelligence, and life’s experience, Magdalena is truly multilingual and multicultural.

Mª Eugenia Díaz Sánchez,
Tenured Professor at the University of Salamanca

Magdalena was selected for the position of Lecturer of Spanish in our department from a broad and deep pool of applicants. Her background as a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Salamanca (Spain) provided her with excellent training in Spanish language, literature, and culture, which she has successfully taught in our department. Indeed, to date, she has taught 200-level Spanish courses (Spanish 201 and 202) and key courses in grammar and composition (Spanish 301), and Spanish Conversation for Professionals (Spanish 303B). The latter is a difficult course to teach given that most faculty are not trained in this area and there is a lack of appropriate materials. Undaunted, Magdalena often created her own materials for the course, some of which were based on her professional experience as a translator. Other resources she adapted from online formats such as videos, audio segments, games, and other worthy and helpful pieces. Indeed, with respect to teaching at the 200-level, our curriculum utilizes several different multi-media and online formats integrated into the in-class and out-of-class experience. Magdalena is very adept with technology in teaching and quickly was able to not only learn but also master the different tools we were using. Overall, her abilities with computer-aided language learning are very high and she has even sought out additional training through the Center of Excellence in Learning and Teaching by attending relevant workshops. Magdalena came to Iowa State from Brown, a fine institution with a respected undergraduate program in Spanish. Before that, Magdalena was undertaking PHD research in Salamanca. However, Magdalena is eager to improve in all instances. As I am sure she will inform you, she has voluntarily observed others’ classes and invited senior professors into her classroom in an effort to constantly improve. As a whole, Magdalena is a confident, innovative, and dedicated instructor who cares deeply for her students and seeks excellence in their work. We are very pleased to have had the opportunity to work with her.

Chad M. Gasta,
Professor of Spanish and Chair, Director, International Studies Co-Director, Languages and Cultures for Professions (LCP) at Iowa State University of Science and Technology

It is a true pleasure to write in support of Magdalena Baranowska’s application to your institution. I have the pleasure of supervising Magdalena as an instructor of Intermediate Spanish I at Brown University and I know her as an exceptionally strong teacher and colleague. She will be an outstanding teacher in your program and I therefore recommend her most highly. As an undergraduate, Magdalena was highly intelligent, mature beyond her years and enthusiastically dedicated to learning everything she could about the Spanish language and culture. She possessed a thirst for knowledge and a work ethic found in very few undergraduates. At no time was Magdalena ever satisfied with her growing Spanish proficiency or her impressively high grades. Magdalena always looks to improve and learn more! Magdalena’s Honors and GPA, multiple, successful academic experiences and her demonstrated excellence in Spanish (she received a scholarship of collaboration from Salamanca University) all attest to the fact that Magdalena was an exceptional undergraduate and is now an exceptional graduate student. However, Magdalena was not satisfied with her record. Magdalena chose to move to the U.S. and teach as a Teaching Associate. As a result of her hard work, high intelligence and life’s experience, Magdalena is truly multilingual and multicultural. I have taught communicative language pedagogy to Spanish teachers of the English language and bilingual programs in Spain. I currently collaborate with Brown’s Sheridan Center for Teaching Learning as a Teaching Consultant, and I am the Teaching Fellow course supervisor for HISP 300, the course Magdalena instructs. I know that Magdalena Baranowska possesses the intelligence, the maturity and the drive to be a highly successful educator. While participating in your program, she will be an exceptional role model and leader. She will serve as a model of the high quality of your program for others to see. For all these reasons, I most highly recommend Magdalena Baranowska for employment at your institution.

Andrea F. Nate,
Teaching Fellow in Hispanic Studies at Brown University

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