Reflections on my 45-hour Individual Intensive with Pediatric Speech Pathologist Kathleen Borowitz
By Desiree Peña, Speak! Spanish Instructor
(Read what Desi’s student, Kathleen, has to say about her experience here)
As a teacher I’ve always highly valued the knowledge gained from students. This never rang truer than with this summer’s 45-hour, three-week immersion course with my student Kathleen, a pediatric speech pathologist at the University of Virginia Hospital System. While Kathleen had signed up to advance her Spanish, a language-learning endeavor she had taken up two years ago, only a few months earlier I had begun my own studies in the field of speech pathology as a distance learning student in the University of Florida’s online post-baccalaureate program.
The individual nature of the course allowed us both to enter into a relaxed, non-traditional classroom environment, where we would begin everyday with a personalized conversation and ask about each other’s lives. Kathleen’s experience in a traditional, foreign-language learning setting had gotten her accustomed to an exhausting test and homework schedule, which many language students come to dread. We instead focused the course on her communication goals and we successfully tossed the idea of the traditional classroom out the window! I focused on structuring each lesson around a theme with accompanying cultural artifacts or materials and, as a foundation, I would select an overarching grammatical topic to practice and emphasize. The immersion aspect of the course also provided plenty of space for extended discussion of a variety of topics, the incorporation of cultural material, and any additional grammar explanations, which can become challenging to include in a traditional hour to hour-and-a-half session. The combination of these elements really allowed Kathleen to make a jump forward in her fluency. It was so gratifying to see her progress over the three weeks!
Kathleen and I both agree that one of the most delightful features of our student-teacher match was that it gave us both the rare opportunity to exchange knowledge and learn from one another in a reciprocal fashion. I was excited each time I found materials that would challenge and simultaneously be familiar to Kathleen. We would venture into discussing articles related to speech disorders, she would share common cases she sees in her day-to-day experience, and after focusing on the necessary vocabulary, we would switch gears into providing advice for the Spanish-speaking patients she serves. Even basic Wikipedia searches would lead to thought-provoking discussions and learning moments for us both! Given our common passion for language and learning, Kathleen and I grew to become friends and during our class time we were able to share personal anecdotes, opinions and iced tea at Paradox Pastry around the corner from Speak!
At the end of our course, as additional inspiration for this blog post, I got to visit Kathleen at the pediatric unit at the university’s hospital. It was my turn to step into Kathleen’s arena and learn from her! It was a great opportunity for me to see and discuss some of the specific cases that I have been studying over the past year. I even got to see Kathleen provide services to a very small patient! While I have gleaned a lot of knowledge and inspiration from students in the past, it was even more motivating to interact with a medical professional so passionate and accomplished in her work. I hope to take cues from her when I become a licensed speech pathologist one day!
Flip Side: (Read what Desi’s student, Kathleen, has to say about her experience here)
Interested in more information about our 1-on-1 courses at Speak!? We can design a course to match your needs and your schedule in any of our 12 languages. Find out more here or visit any of our language pages.