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Teacher Profile: Maria Othman

Teacher Profile: Maria Othman

Maria Othman

My name is Maria Othman, but my students know be as Sra. Othman. Ask any of my students, and they will tell you that “Sra.” Is “Mrs.” in Spanish.

I am a certified bilingual educator, and this is my 16th year in education. I am passionate about teaching, especially foreign languages. When I was asked several years ago by colleagues what my favorite subject to teach was, without hesitation I replied, “Spanish at the elementary level.”

Why the elementary level? Because at this age, the students aren’t afraid of learning a new language, they aren’t shy to speak it, and they are so inquisitive about the language and culture they are learning about. It makes my heart smile!

My teaching philosophy is simple: make learning engaging and fun. This is why I utilize the comprehensible input philosophy (TCI). This approach to learning a second language allows me to break free from having students memorize vocabulary words and grammar rules. Utilizing TCI enables me to teach a lot of repetition through songs, movement, reading, movie talk, and games, just to name a few.

Using these strategies allows students to enjoy learning a second language. And the best part about this approach to learning is that they have so much fun that they don’t even know they are learning. For example, I made a fiesta to celebrate Cinco de Mayo so that students could learn the difference between Mexico’s Independence Day (16 de setpiembre) and the battle at Puebla, when the French tried to invade Mexico (why we celebrate Cinco de Mayo). The students got to watch Folklorico dancers, they performed a traditional Mexican dance, learned how to make flour tortillas, sampled Mexican food and desserts, and played lots of games – all while learning about the Mexican culture and the difference between Cinco de Mayo and Mexico’s Independence Day.

I always tell the students who attend Red Lick ISD how blessed and fortunate they are to have the opportunity to learn Spanish at such a young age. Most students have to wait until they reach middle or high school to be introduced to foreign languages. Fortunately, our students get to learn to speak a second language in Kindergarten. To me, that is one of the best times to learn a second language – when kids are babies.

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In the United States, Spanish is the second most spoken language, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Throughout my life, I’ve met people from all types of job fields who express to me how they wish they could speak Spanish because it would facilitate their jobs, and they wouldn’t have to rely on others to translate for them.

I am blessed to have learned to speak Spanish from my parents as a child. But I am especially blessed to have the opportunity to teach a language and culture that I am passionate about at one of the best school districts (and for one of the best principals) in Texarkana, Texas… Red Lick Elementary School. For me, it doesn’t get better than this!

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