My Job as Spanish Coordinator: Gaby’s Experience

ICADSICADS, Language, Spanish

Gabriela has been part of the ICADs team for over a decade, but her career began long before that. She has a lifelong passion for teaching Spanish and sharing Latin American culture with students. Her dedication to this cross-cultural teaching and learning is apparent in her work at ICADS. Gabriela is always looking to improve ICADS’ program so every student can become more fluent in Spanish, and everything else they need to successfully understand the world better.

What inspired you to get involved with ICADS?

The possibility to share my knowledge and professional experience in a renowned institute in Costa Rica, such as ICADS, was an inspiration to me. We work following top quality and highly demanding standards, to respond to serious and prestigious universities in the United States, through thorough and interesting programs focused on eye-opening opportunities for the students which create bonds between different cultures and widen levels of consciousness and social commitment. For me, working at ICADS was and still is an enriching opportunity and a very interesting challenge.

How does your academic background in Latin American literature and Spanish help you in coordinating programs for ICADS?

Our students come to ICADS to learn Spanish, regardless of their very different levels of language skills. Some students need help to learn the basics – greeting and introducing themselves – while others need to build a solid argument to defend their position regarding a polemic topic or to analyze and situate the context of a literature work. Hence, the person who coordinates the Spanish department at ICADS must be ready to teach at all levels and to design new courses according to the needs and expectations of students as well as universities.

Apart from designing new courses, the Spanish director has to put them into practice, hiring qualified and experienced Spanish professors, supervising teaching techniques, and evaluating on-going as well as finalized courses.

If I lacked the graduate academic background I have, I’d hardly be able to do what I do with confidence and assurance. In addition, I studied Spanish because I love the language and culture behind it, and I share this love at work with the youngsters that study it.

Why is ICADS unique from other Spanish program providers?

ICADS is different from other institutes that provide Spanish programs as a second language since its very origin and founding purposes. In addition to being a Spanish school, ICADS was conceived as a center for Latin American studies, to better understand the region’s social, economic, and cultural context.

At ICADS, we believe that speaking Spanish and communicating with local people are the best ways to achieve the proposed objectives, apart from providing the students with new opportunities for personal and professional growth and for improving their communication and intercultural skills, among others. For us, it is also very important to integrate the social topics studied in other courses taught at ICADS, so that students can express in Spanish what they learn about economics, gender, migration, sustainability, and social justice.

In addition, at ICADS we make our best effort to keep a Spanish program with a practical communication approach rather than with a written theoretical proposal. Hence, we teach the language in small groups of students, in charge of university graduated professors who have solid experience in college programs, using a wide range of teaching materials and resources, and providing training workshops for our professors.

What is the most rewarding part about your job?

The most rewarding part is definitively to see students learn, to accompany them in their discovery process, to watch them improve communication on a daily basis, to see how they gradually say things they were unable to say before, and to witness how proud and happy they get with their accomplishments.

For example, I love to hear them say that they spend hours conversing with their local family, that they made an interview in Spanish, that they watched a movie and understood it, that they have started to understand Latin humor or are able to tell their own jokes. Likewise, it’s very satisfying whenever they say they want to study the language in depth or even study to be a Spanish teacher.

You can read the full interview here:

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