Hello there, my name is Mónica and I am one of the Spanish teachers at Bonjour.
You will recognise me in the school because I’m probably the shortest girl in the room, the one with the Latin accent that is creating some sort of activity with post-it notes or colorful cards.
I’m from Maracaibo, Venezuela and I have been reinventing myself little by little, studying and trying different skills since I moved to Australia in 2013. Besides teaching Spanish, I love having great conversations with friends or family over yummy food, walking in nature, reading and dancing salsa.
1. Hello Mónica, which language are you teaching at Bonjour Toowoomba?
I have been teaching Spanish at Bonjour since February 2019.
2. How do you organise your classes?
I organise my classes taking into consideration the personality of my students and their interests, and the fact that most of them come to study Spanish after a long day at work, so the lesson needs to be engaging and dynamic.
In a normal class I usually refresh the content of the previous class and review homework; we practice the different language skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking, working as a team if it is a group setting. I provide personalised feedback and encouragement, and we spend time discovering cultural aspects of the language.
I enjoy adapting the material I use to what my students like, for example, I have a student who does painting and sketching and when we studied about going shopping, we learnt about art supplies in Spanish and local craft markets in Peru.
Since I love searching for new ideas and original resources, I maintain a platform with interactive exercises, videos, podcasts, etc., that my students can use outside the class to enhance their learning experience.
And finally, at the end of the term, I usually have a session to practice all that we have seen so far. In December last year I tried an escape room with a theme of Christmas and New Year in Spain and Latinoamerica to celebrate the last class and review content. It was great fun and it ended up with a happy team eating grapes and South American traditional cake.
3. What’s your best language learning tip?
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, make your learning experience enjoyable when you are outside the classroom and be consistent, you’ll be surprise in the long term if you decide to study at least 15 mins every day.
4. Why do you like working at Bonjour Toowoomba?
There are so many things I like about working at Bonjour Toowoomba! As a busy mum I like that the job is quite flexible, and as a teacher I appreciate having the freedom to be creative in my classes and trying different approaches to teach a language. I also like that the groups are small so we all get to know each other easily, creating a positive dynamic where we all feel comfortable making mistakes and helping each other to learn.
During the time I’ve worked with Bonjour, I have seen the management effort to make a positive difference in all its relationships, providing a welcoming environment for teachers and students and actively supporting other local businesses and causes.
Finally, I enjoy the opportunity to interact with teachers from different cultures, participate in multicultural events (with lots of good food!), and meet new people eager to learn about other cultures and happy to share about theirs.
5. Could you share some information about your country?
Venezuela is located in the north of South America, between Colombia and Brasil. It is a diverse country, with crystalline water beaches in the coast with the Caribean Sea, mountains from Los Andes Chain, clusters of table-top mountains (Tepuy), impressive plains and the highest waterfall in the world: Angell’s fall.
Some curios facts about my country is that petrol is incredibly cheap, almost free, there is an everlasting lighting storm: the Catatumbo lightning, and that we love a beauty pageant, as we are popular for winning many Miss Universe and Miss World competitions.
In Venezuela we don’t know what personal space is, we hug and kiss people even if we are just meeting them, but don’t worry if we are going to meet, I’ve learned about personal space while living in Australia 😊.
6. Do you have a funny story to share about you teaching?
There is usually lots of laughter in class where we practice how to trill the “R”s to achieve that strong r sound so characteristic of Spanish speaking. In one of them two of my students decided to role play imitating a passionate soap opera and calling each other Raul and Rosa with a sexy Latin voice. It was hilarious.
Another one was in December when I wanted my students to experience the Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes during the last 12 second of the year, while saying Happy New Year at the end of the countdown. We all got ready with 12 grapes each and started eating them with each second following a video of the traditional countdown. To my surprise, all my students did better than me, who is supposed to be the expert! While I was almost chocking with grapes, they seemed quite comfortable. It was a funny lesson to remember that even the natives can struggle with weird traditions.
7. What’s your favorite expression in your language? Can you explain it?
It’s not easy to pick just one, but I would say “Chévere¨ is one of my favourite ones. It can mean “cool, good, ok”. For example: How are you? - Chévere. If you are feeling awesome, you would say Cheverísimo. I like it because it isn’t used in many hispanic countries so it reminds me of Venezuela, where people use it very often. In fact, some people realise that I am Venezuelan, when I introduce my “chévere¨ somewhere in the conversation.
8. If you should live on a deserted island, what would you bring with you?
Can I take only one thing? Then I would bring my husband and kids with me.
If I can take more, I would add a good supply of kombucha, brownies and pizzas, and a few books.
Thank you for participation!