Name: Maria Cuadrado-Corrales
Department: Foreign Language
Year Started: 2004
Classes taught: Spanish
Education: attended university in Spain
Previous Jobs: English teacher in Spain
Hobbies: biking, skiing, horseback riding, hiking
"It's like I'm an actress in front of an audience, so I need to know what the audience wants," says a smiling Maria Cuadrado-Corrales as she describes her teaching style. Cuadrado, a Spanish teacher in Blair's Foreign Language Department, has been teaching at Blair for three years but has taught in other schools for the past 15.
Instead, culture shock made the transition between countries challenging. "The U.S. is a very young country, while Spain is much older,' says Cuadrado. "There's a very different energy here, the country is very open to opportunities, and there's much more optimism. Europe seems to be much more pessimistic."
Cuadrado has also noticed differences between the two cultures on a much smaller scale. In Spain, she taught English as a foreign language for Spanish-speaking students and now teaches Spanish as a foreign language to primarily English-speaking students. She has found that in Spain, English is "a language of prestige for students to be successful," and has become a mandatory part of the curriculum, while foreign language in the United States is much less significant.
Despite this, however, Cuadrado has found that students in the United States tend to do better with Spanish than Spanish-speaking students do with English. "While they might have less actual knowledge of the language in the United States, the students are much better at oral delivery and are much more willing to try."
Though Spanish is her first language, her teaching experience has enabled her to discover that teaching it to English-speaking students is much harder than teaching English to Spanish-speakers. "In Spain I had control over my audience. Here I had to learn what the students are like and what their needs and interests are. It's also much more difficult to learn the curriculum." says Cuadrado. "In Spain I had already gone through the school system, so I knew what it was like."
The fact that she teaches at Blair has somewhat eased the transition, however. Cuadrado recognizes that Blair has a much more diverse environment than many other schools in Montgomery County, particularly Sherwood, where she taught before coming to Montgomery Blair. "At Blair I haven't encountered certain situations that happened at Sherwood. Everyone is much more respectful of the differences between students, and greatly value the differences between students."
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