Look Who's Talking
She’ll climb on a chair. She’ll have the class stand up, sit down, form a line. She’ll lie on the floor and feign a siesta until some brave soul answers a question. Associate Professor of Spanish Jennifer Zachman wants the language to come alive for her students, and she’ll do just about anything to get them talking.
Professor Zachman says there’s a method to her madness. “I try to get my students to speak Spanish and participate actively. I try to keep a lot of movement in the class not only in terms of what we’re covering, but sometimes, when it’s relevant, physical movement.”
“Studying a language isn’t just studying grammar and vocabulary but also idiomatic expressions related to the culture,” she adds. “The goal in a language class is always communication. So I tell my students that I prefer them to speak as much as possible, even if they make errors.”
Professor Zachman travels frequently to Spain for research, enhancing the courses she teaches on contemporary theatre, women writers, and cinema. As the coordinator of the Saint Mary’s study abroad program in Seville, she says, “I really try to encourage students to study abroad, particularly since you can meet people who are going to have a lasting impact on your life, much like the friends you’ll meet here on campus.”
At Saint Mary’s, seasoned professors teach every foreign language class from introductory to advanced levels. That interaction is a plus for Professor Zachman. “I get to know my students really well. I’ve had innumerable occasions where I’ve learned something from my students about a text, because they saw something I didn’t see. That’s what I think is really rewarding … There’s always more that you can discover.”