Recently our local community college decided to hire a professor who could give the students in our foreign language classes a real taste of the vernacular as well as the foreign language. They hired a professor of languages who was a native of Spain and had lived and taught English in Mexico and in Argentina. When this professor arrived the school went out of its way to find her an attractive residence on campus. They were surprised when the professor refused the offer, opting instead to stay at the Extended Stay America hotel on the highway near downtown.
The staff was taken aback by this decision. The professor said she preferred living in a part of town where she was closer to the diverse population and business activity. When I later asked her the reason for this she explained that she felt she had more of a chance to learn the local dialect when she lived among the stores and businesses in town than she would have living on the school campus. Besides, she’d grown fond of the living quarters available at Extended Stay America. She didn’t tell me she was saving money for the home she later bought. By using Groupon coupons to save up to 31% off a 7 night stay she saved alot. And she was also saving travel costs since she’d be living close to all the activity centers; she only had to take the bus each morning from the hotel to her campus office.
Her policy made even more sense when she started teaching her first class. That initial class session was the only one that was taught in English; from the second class to the final exam every class was taught in Spanish. She even gave demerits to any student who spoke to another in English while in her classroom. And she made her class read a novel (Don Quixote) in Spanish, and act out scenes from the book. Some people felt she was overdoing it, but she explained one day that the only way to become proficient at a foreign language was to use it every day. She even made students do crossword puzzles in Spanish. I always wondered how many Spanish-language TV programs she watched on that set in her suite there at the Extended Stay America. They must have been useful for her when she developed her lesson plans.