BSM Blog: Passing on Lessons in Language

BSM Blog: Passing on Lessons in Language

When I was in the 4th grade, I took a summer school course in Spanish and it changed my life. I had never had the opportunity to take any world language classes prior and in my hometown in Wisconsin, we didn’t have many options until high school. Immersion schools were not around until much later and we didn’t have the funds or the need for such programs in the 1980s. After I took that Introduction to Spanish class, the world seemed to open up to me in a new way.

It wasn’t until 9th grade that I was able to take Spanish again. I began in Spanish with Srta. Murphy. She was a spunky, older woman, with a passion for Spanish and a sack of dulces (sweets) for “cinco hombres verdes.” Her method of teaching vocabulary and grammar was to have a quiz daily and basically memorize the list and the grammar chart. For every 100%, you received a stamp on your paper which showed up as a little green guy. When you accumulated 5 of these stamps, you received a piece of candy. At the time, I had no idea what “cinco hombres verdes” meant as a freshman, except that I received candy for my grades, for doing well and turning in my quizzes and tests. While I did do well on assessments, I struggled with my understanding and comprehension in the language. At times I recall being frustrated with not being able to speak or know what was being said. Her ardor for learning and for all things Spanish encouraged me to push through my difficulties.

Much has changed since that class in 1993, but the passion and the fervor for language that I learned from Srta. Murphy hasn’t. I saw her years later at the local hospital working as a volunteer and she was still her spirited self. She inspired a commitment to language. She inspired students to look beyond their classroom window and to look out into a world of diverse languages, perspectives and opinions. She taught me the value in studying and in never giving up when something didn’t come easily.

Language has become my life’s obsession. I love all things linguistic and find entertainment in learning new languages and traveling the globe whenever possible. Without programs like exploratory summer school classes, language camps and immersion schools, our students wouldn’t have the opportunity to learn about the world or make connections with diverse people from around the globe. I am grateful for the experiences that I have had, which have shaped me in to the world language teacher I am today here at BSM.

I work hard each day to instill those same lessons I once learned into our Red Knights, and will forever be thankful for those “cinco hombres verdes.”

BSM will be celebrating World Language and Culture Week March 4 -8, 2019. Stay tuned for details on the many activities students, faculty and staff will be participating in.