By David Perritano

Natalia Fernandez has been teaching English and Spanish as a second language in Argentina since she graduated from the Universidad del Salvador in Argentina in 2002.

A native Argentinian from Buenos Aires, Profesora Fernández is working to receive her master’s in general education studies at the University at Albany. AHN’s newest Spanish Teacher wants her students to know that while learning a new language takes time and effort, especially when being taught by a native speaker, practice makes perfect! “The more hours you put into it, the faster you will learn. Most importantly, students must understand when learning a language, they must overcome the fear of making mistakes in front of others. The more mistakes you make, the more you are learning, because you are practicing! Besides, native speakers are so appreciative of your trying to speak their language, that I can swear they don’t even think about judging you!

Spanish remains one of the most spoken languages worldwide, with 496 million native (595 million total) speakers, according to a report by the Cervantes Institute. Profesora Fernández says studying a language is more than learning words and sentence structures. “You are learning how other people think, feel, and live, which enriches your own perspective about others and fosters cultural awareness. Not to mention greater job opportunities in a globalized world, as well as the physiological benefits it has on the brain.”

Profesora Fernández says the earlier students are introduced to a foreign language, the easier it is to learn — in Argentina, most students begin in primary school – but the amount of exposure you have to a language plays a decisive role as well. She says her five-year-old daughter now speaks more English than Spanish!

As for what to expect inside the classroom, Profesora Fernández says she holds very high standards for herself and her students. “I care about my students, and I love feeling proud of them, I want them to be among the best!”