Foreign Language at Community Education
Foreign language classes have always been a staple of Nashville Community Education programming. Offerings have ranged over the years from Spanish to American Sign Language. Currently, we offer Spanish and Italian at our Cohn location. The rosters of Spanish and Italian bring a crowd to NCE each week. We’d like to think that high quality instructors are a big part of what brings students to our classes. This year our foreign language instructors are from a new partnership with the Belmont University Department of Foreign Languages.
A University Partner
Nashville Community Education started working with Dr. David Julseth of the Belmont University Department of Foreign Languages to find young, enthusiastic language students looking to gain teaching experience. “Nashville Community Education offers a unique opportunity for Belmont students to gain experience teaching adult learners, who are not the traditional focus of university education programs,” says Dr. Julseth.
This year we welcomed to the NCE team Spanish instructor, Warren Ray, and Italian instructor, Jessica Spradlin. Ray, a graduate of Belmont in December 2012, had been tutoring and teaching Spanish for several years prior to joining NCE. Spradlin, also a December 2012 graduate, joined the team this Winter to teach Italian. Students return because they like our passionate and knowledgeable instructors and are eager to learn more from them. Of Ray, Spanish students say, “Learning is easy when it’s fun. Our instructor [Ray] made class fun for us, and I enjoyed coming every Wednesday to class”. Italian 1 students shared that Spradlin is enthusiastic, always cheerful, and supportive of her students. Her students enjoyed the class so much that they petitioned her for a level 3 Italian class.
Studying the Language
Both Spradlin and Ray discovered their love for language and culture while studying abroad as Belmont University undergraduate students. Ray studied abroad first in Grenada, a small city located in South Central Spain, and then in Barcelona, the second largest city in the country.
What was his favorite thing about Spain? “In Granada,” says Ray, “It was most definitely the tapas food culture—cafe food given out for free just to encourage people to linger and chat.” As for Barcelona, Ray says it was the people that made the city; “Friends I made studying, living, and working in Barcelona came from all over the world.”
Spradlin began her study of Italian simply at the request of her mother so that she could understand the Italian in The Godfather without subtitles. After diving in with the goal of understanding The Godfather, Spradlin soon found other reasons to continue to study Italian, including the opportunity to travel abroad.
Last year, Spradlin participated in a travel-study program through Belmont that led her through Bologna, Venice, Florence, and Rome. Reflecting on her time in Italy, Spradlin says, “The passion of Italy is my favorite part. In everything Italian, it seems like there is some deeper passion—in their food, in their hand gestures, in their words.”
Joining Community Education
Both Ray and Spradlin came to NCE looking for the opportunity to teach and share their love for language. “I like trying to communicate something to someone and seeing their eyes light up when they finally get it,” Spradlin explains. For Ray, it is the experience teaching all kinds of learners that makes NCE a great teaching experience. Both instructors agree that it is inspiring to see adult learners studying foreign language.
If you missed starting a new language this Winter, look for Spanish and Italian in our upcoming Summer classes, including level 1 of both languages and level 3 of Italian. Spanish 1 is set to begin June 3rd, costs $50, and will meet every Monday for 6 weeks from 7 to 9pm. Italian 1 begins May 30th, costs $40, and will meet every Thursday for 6 weeks from 6 to 7:30pm. Italian 3 begins June 3rd, costs $50, and will meet every Monday for 6 weeks from 6:00 to 7:30pm.
To students looking to start a new language this summer, Spradlin offers her favorite Italian phrase, “In bocca al lupe”—a phrase literally meaning “into the wolf’s mouth” but translating to “Good luck!” Join us this summer at Nashville Community Education!
- Lauren Zimmerman – Lauren Zimmerman is a native of Middle Tennessee and a recent graduate of Boston University with a bachelor’s degree in Linguistics. After graduating in 2011, Lauren served a year as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Community Education. After her year of service, Lauren joined the department officially as the Communications Coordinator, responsible for managing the website, all external communications, social media, and department data collection and analysis.