Meet Speak! German Teacher, Stefanie Nauhardt Parker
Dr. Stefanie Parker is a frequent (always smiling) presence at Speak! Language Center. She has been teaching with us for about 3 years now and works with a variety of students of all ages and levels. Since joining our team, our German program has truly blossomed – Dankeschön, Stefanie!
Tell us a little about yourself – where are you from and what brought you to Charlottesville?
I am originally from Weissenfels, Germany. My husband and I moved to Charlottesville when I started attending grad school at UVA in 2006.
Do you remember the moment when you decided to become a German teacher?
During 1997-98 I spent a year as an au-pair in Virginia then entered the University of Leipzig upon my return. I had been accepted into a journalism program in Germany before coming back to the US, but ended up following a different path once I arrived here. Through many experiences at a handful of colleges and universities around the state my focus eventually shifted to studying Germanic Languages and literature at UVA. I’ve been teaching for over 18 years so it just feels like it’s a part of who I am.
You teach a variety of individual courses at Speak! -from immersion training for the Department of Defense and community members to semi-private classes for travelers and faculty members. How do you prepare such varied lessons and what do you enjoy about the variety?
I draw from many different textbooks and a variety of worksheets all of which allow me to tailor my lessons to each student’s personal needs. I also try to listen to the students and gain an understanding of what each one hopes to learn during the time we spend together.
Tell us a bit about your teaching style and some of the activities or exercises that you find most effective, fun and/or successful.
I always try to integrate culture and basically meet the students where they are. It is my goal to create a warm and comfortable atmosphere that is suitable for learning.
If you could learn another foreign language that we teach at Speak!, which would it be and why?
If I could learn another foreign language I would choose Spanish. I would not only because both my children are learning it at school but also because it is such an important language here in the US.
You are the parent of two young children – do you speak German to them at home? What is your strategy for raising them bilingual?
I try to speak only German to my children at home. It is important to me that they grow up learning about my language and culture.
What do you like most about teaching German at Speak!?
I really enjoy meeting students and listening to their stories about why they want to learn German. I also like the flexible teaching hours at SPEAK!