Seeing Students Grow!

Time flies when you’re teaching Spanish 🙂

At this point, we are now squarely in the controlled chaos that is a college semester. Students are juggling classes, clubs, and in many cases like my own, work. From my perspective, both from the student side and teaching side, Pitt students have done an awesome job with the transition back to being in person.

In the Medical Spanish course, the students have been remarkable about adapting to the unique challenges of the pandemic. Students have been prudent about not attending class if they are unwell, as well as reaching out to get themselves caught up with the material we cover.

From a learning standpoint, masks have undoubtedly been a tremendous obstacle. Learning a language requires more than just hearing. Physically seeing someone’s lips move is a crucial non-verbal component that helps students associate what they hear with what they see. With virtually all of the vocabulary we cover being words the students haven’t heard before, they’ve done an excellent job of pushing through.

The students have been excellent. They’ve grown significantly since the semester commenced and made the most significant strides in one area: confidence. Some of this has to do with the unique situation they were placed in. We are speaking a language that almost none of them grew up speaking. We are wearing masks, making it much harder for us to hear each other. On top of all of this, we all have to adapt to learning in person after nearly two years on Zoom. That being said, I feel strongly that the students have grown as speakers outside of these adjustments. Students who rarely spoke in the beginning of the semester now contribute regularly. Students take risks when answering questions as they are now less afraid to fail. I also think they’ve done an excellent job of creating a comforting, nurturing environment.

I attribute a lot of this growth to the teaching style of my mentor, Manuel Garzón. The class is set up so that students must not only participate, but prepare in order to know what is going on. In class, students are constantly speaking. Recently, we wrapped up two of our group presentations, in which students presented on details regarding the respiratory system and cardiovascular system, respectively. The students did a really nice job and their presentations went off without a hitch.

For other students trying to find faculty mentors, I would advise that you simply not be afraid to reach out to someone! You miss 100% of the shots that you don’t take. Pursue your passions and just see what happens! Mentors will almost always be appreciative of you reaching out, especially at a place like Pitt.

Thank you for reading.

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