Communication, culture, community created through language acquisition

Maurissa Ramirez

Teaching two languages is something of a challenge, but for Anja Schwalen, this comes naturally. Growing up in Germany and studying abroad in Spain, pushed her to want to teach Spanish and German in America.

Schwalen started learning English during school and also took a few years of Latin and French.

“My belief is, if you want to learn a language, if you are motivated, it is doable,” Schwalen said. “It is important though to not be a perfectionist, but to experiment with the language.”

Schwalen started learning Spanish after high school in her community.

“Many Germans like to take language classes because it is customary to travel abroad to neighboring countries and because it is considered fun,” Schwalen said. “I later decided to major in Spanish alongside history. During my college years, I had the opportunity to spend a year in Madrid, Spain and attend university there.”

Schwalen said that after living in Spain for a year it improved her listening, speaking, and writing skills in Spanish. Teaching both German and Spanish classes this year, things can become hectic for Schwalen, but with her teaching abilities she has overcome this challenge.

“I have more preps and less space in my classroom since I have to store all the different materials for both languages,” Schwalen said. “Although a benefit would be that I get to collaborate more with Mrs. Krammer.”
Students recognize Schwalen’s teaching abilities and admire her background in education.

“I believe that she is an extremely professional teacher,” senior Blaine Brezina said. “She’s also a great teacher and I admire that. Being that German is her first language and that she’s studied abroad in Spain, and is now teaching Spanish is very impressive.”

Opening yourself up to new languages and new cultures may benefit you in more ways than one.

“Studying another language benefits you because you get to know a different culture and a different way of thinking,” Schwalen said. “I value education a lot. I feel teaching is a good way to share my talents with others.”