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November 2020 - Judith Wilding

Love of language is something that simply flows in Judith’s veins. A writer, a talented poet, a teacher of writing, in the past she studied Russian out of love for literature and language. Currently, she is an English as a Second Language teacher for middle schoolers, tirelessly working to help young immigrant students master the English language. Motivated by a desire to communicate with the Spanish-speaking families of her students, she’s been wholly dedicated to her Spanish classes at Tierra for the past three years.  Her enormous desire to immerse herself in the language and deepen her cultural knowledge is palpable in every class she takes and it led her to enjoy a summer studying Spanish in Oaxaca, Mexico. We are so grateful for the amazing work Judith, and all teachers, are doing during times of Covid to keep their students engaged and learning and feel honored to be the bridge that helps her connect to families in Spanish. We look forward to continuing to watch Judith reach new heights in her learning and use her skills in the most noble of ways.

Name: Judith Wilding
Occupation: Middle School Teacher / Writer
Time Studying at Tierra: 3 years

1) Why are you studying Spanish?

"I am studying Spanish because I realized I needed these language skills when I got a job four years ago at a middle school in Vancouver as a teacher to emerging multilingual students  (ELD, ESL Teacher). Many of the  students and families I serve are Spanish speaking and being able to speak to them directly rather than through an interpreter completely transforms these relationships. Also, learning more about and having been immersed in Latinx culture has helped me to see my own biases and find ways to be more culturally-responsive in my work.

Outside of my work, being a Spanish-language learner is giving me constant doses of humility when I get tongue-tied, pride when I finally understand concepts like preterite vs. imperfecto, and better food to eat on the regular! I’ve never had so much fun cooking since after I came back in summer 2019 from a study-abroad program in Oaxaca, Mexico."

2) What is your favorite part about your experience here at Tierra?

"So many things to say here, but I think the skill of the teachers most of all. The teachers really do a great job at scaffolding language-learning and making learning sticky. While I’m learning at Tierra, I’m always thinking in the back of my mind about which activities I’m going to bring back to my own middle school classroom."

3) Can you tell us of a time you have been able to use what you have learned studying here?

"Due to remote-learning now, I am communicating nearly every day with Spanish-speaking parents via text, email, or phone. I use the grammar and vocabulary accessible to me now, and let parents know that I’m still learning and that I’d be happy for them to correct me. Sometimes, mid-sentence I’ll have to stop and try to say what I’m saying a different way because I don’t yet know the subjunctive or a verb. Usually later in the evenings or during my Spanish classes, I realize my consistently wrong pronunciation of something or that I’ve consistently been Spanishifying some English word that is definitely not a word. But always, the families are glad that I can communicate directly with them and are very patient with me while I’m searching for synonyms. And I’m very proud of all the growth I’ve made in three years!

Beyond school, I use Spanish to give me access to Cinco de Mayo mercado and reading some poetry in Spanish (very slowly)."

¡Felicidades Judith!