Engaging Students in Spanish Tradition

Meet High School World Languages Teacher Clara Gomez Lewis

Clara joined the EC faculty in 2019. She is a native of Medellin, Colombia and has resided in the United States for 37 years. She has 13 years of experience teaching Spanish and completed a Spanish language and culture course from the University of Alicante in Spain. Clara enjoys traveling, the outdoors and spending time with her family.

Q: Why did you decide to become a teacher?
I decided to become a teacher when I realized the influence, I could have in other people’s lives. I have always believed that all people are equal, with cultural differences and becoming a teacher (especially teaching Spanish) gave me an opportunity to share the language, customs and traditions from people all over the world. Through teaching the language and customs, I realize that I can help students understand and be kinder to others who are from other places or people who are different from them. I love to hear from each student about their cultural backgrounds. We are so lucky to have such a mixture of cultures in the United States, and I wanted to acknowledge the differences and similarities among all of us and the richness that every person contributes to the world.

Q: What strategies do you use to motivate your students?
Some strategies I use to motivate students is to have a clear understanding of the objectives and what I expect about behavior in class and how we treat each other. I strive to have a non-threatening environment by letting students know that we respect each other. I encourage everyone to participate and take risks. I am aware of different learning styles and provide tools and support to help everyone succeed. I also include music, have the students move around, play games with some healthy competitions, and work together and help each other. I am a positive person and try to radiate positivity in the classroom. I encourage students to laugh and have fun while we are learning.

Becoming a teacher gave me an opportunity to share the language, customs and traditions from people all over the world.

Q: How have you utilized technology in the classroom over the past year?
I enjoy learning about new technological tools and try to incorporate them in a lesson if I see the students will benefit by learning from these experiences. I have students create video recordings, especially for speaking, and some audio recordings for developing their listening skills, as well as some games to practice vocabulary.

Q: What makes a good day at school?
A good day at school is when the students leave my class singing, laughing or saying, “What? Class is over?” That question tells me students were engaged and having a great time learning Spanish.

Q: Tell us about a project or lesson you love to teach.
I love food and cooking from scratch. As part of teaching about culture, I have students learn about tortilla making in Mexico. After watching a program, they will learn some vocabulary and then get to make tortillas in class. We will eat them with queso fresco. Students really enjoy cooking and learning about foods as well.

If you have questions for Clara, you can reach her at cgomez@eastsidecatholic.org.

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