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Nathan Acevedo, a University of Delaware junior Spanish education
and Chinese double major, studied abroad in Granada, Spain, and is
looking forward to passing his knowledge and passion on to others. “To
me, one of the greatest marks that I can leave on society is by being a
teacher,” he said.
Acevedo, a junior Spanish education and Chinese double major at the
University of Delaware, first began learning Spanish in high school, he
was “really bad at it” and almost quit.
But thanks to some great teachers in high school who showed him that
not only was it possible for him to learn another language but also how
important it is, he stuck with it — and now he wants to pass that
knowledge and passion on to others.
“I want to take my value of foreign languages and foreign culture and
be able to make an impact and give that exposure and experience to
other students,” said Acevedo, who is from Wilmington, Delaware, and
hopes to teach in the First State after he graduates from UD. “To me,
one of the greatest marks that I can leave on society is by being a
teacher. I think that cultural and language education are so important,
and it feels like a great duty or a service to be able to pass that on
to the next generation.”
Move this whole section up, swapping places with the section above it.
“I want to be a teacher not only to help others learn about
languages and other cultures, but to also spread my love for that and
hopefully inspire more students to also recognize their own passions and
their own interests,” said Macy Morozin, a junior Spanish education
There are myriad career paths for someone who knows a second or
third language — translator, tour guide, travel adviser and foreign
service officer, to name a few. Proficiency in another language can also
lead to higher earnings and can make a prospective employee more
marketable, especially in industries like hospitality and healthcare.
But several UD students are interested in a career perhaps a little less
glamorous but much more fulfilling: teaching.
“I've always loved learning, and I really value education,” said Macy
Morozin, a junior Spanish education major. “I want to be a teacher not
only to help others learn about languages and other cultures, but to
also spread my love for that and hopefully inspire more students to also
recognize their own passions and their own interests.”
At UD, a world language education student will take as many language
courses as a general language major. Students are essentially a language
major with an education concentration, allowing them to have a much
richer experience with the content.
Basia Moltchanov, assistant professor of Spanish and world
language pedagogy in the Department of Languages, Literatures and
Cultures, says world language education students are essentially a
language major with an education concentration, allowing them to have a
much richer experience with the content.
“We have language professors who are experts in phonetics, phonology, cultural literature and other content areas that our students get to take classes with and interact with, so they have a much richer experience with the content and greater content knowledge by being a language major with an education concentration,” said Basia Moltchanov, assistant professor of Spanish and world language pedagogy in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures. “I think that's really where UD excels.”
In addition to language courses, students will take pedagogy courses
through the School of Education as well as classes through the
Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures that are specific to
teaching language acquisition.
“It's a very good mix of theory and practice at the same time,”
Acevedo said of the world language education program at UD. “The classes
themselves have been nothing short of amazing. The faculty are here for
us, they care about our success and they want us to be able to be
really good world language educators when we go into the field.”
Second language acquisition is different from first language
acquisition (how babies learn to talk), so UD world language education
courses focus on what research has shown to be the best methods of
teaching language in a classroom setting.
Brooke Meadowcroft, a senior French education and political
science double major, has taught French to high school students in
Delaware and also taught English to elementary school students while
studying abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France.
“There are a variety of contexts in which you can learn a second language, but we really focus on what it means to learn a language in the classroom,” Moltchanov said. “Students learn how to make a classroom as impactful as possible for those who are learning a language. We're teaching future educators how to teach in a classroom setting. That means their students have to have enough exposure to the language and enough practice with using the language, and are doing it in a way that’s going to mimic as closely as possible having meaningful interactions with a speaker of the languages being learned.”
Getting future educators into the classroom as early and often as
possible is key to preparing successful teachers. At UD, students can go
out into the field as early as their first year on campus and have the
opportunity all four years to observe or teach in a classroom.
Brooke Meadowcroft, a senior French education and political science
double major, has taught French to high school students in Delaware and
also taught English to elementary school students while studying abroad
in Aix-en-Provence, France, last semester.
“Teaching English to French students filled my cup so much — I loved
it,” she said. “Teaching in France was the most wonderful thing I've
ever experienced. Seeing their faces light up when they learned was
Juliana Monticello, a junior Italian education major, said that
anyone is capable of learning a language, and she looks forward to
helping students foster a love of learning.
Meadowcroft said her pedagogy classes at UD helped her develop a new outlook on how she herself best learns a new language.
“I learn best by immersing myself with others who speak the
language,” she said. “Understanding, from a pedagogical point of view,
why that helps me learn a language better is really helpful. I'm not
going to go and read a bunch of things, because I know that's not the
way that I best take in information. Instead, I would interact with
people face to face, speaking the language. I learned through pedagogy
courses how to teach people a language in the way that works best for
them, and then I flipped that back on myself.”
The job outlook for world language teachers, particularly in
Delaware, is strong. According to a 2015 report published by the U.S.
Department of Education, Delaware has struggled with extensive teacher
shortages since the 2002-2003 school year. There are shortages in
content areas such as science, reading, math, music, art, foreign
language and English as a second language. However, some areas are
considered “critical need,” and foreign language is one of those
“critical needs” in which Delaware has consistently reported a teacher
shortage for the past two decades.
Juliana Monticello, a junior Italian education major, started
studying Italian in sixth grade and knew from a young age that she
wanted to be a teacher.
“I’m looking forward to helping kids love to learn,” she said.
“Sometimes students say, ‘I'm bad at school. I'm bad at learning
languages.’ And that’s definitely not true. Everyone is capable of
learning a language, and I want to help foster that love of learning for
Article by Amy Wolf
, photos by Kathy F. Atkinson and courtesy of Nathan Acevedo, Macy Morozin, Brooke Meadowcroft and Juliana Monticello
Published May 18, 2023