Plaid Works

Eli George: A Summer Teaching Spanish

“Learning a new language at the same time as teaching a new language was really amazing. It was a wonderful experience.” — Eli George

Eli George, teaching Spanish.Eli George, teaching Spanish.

Eli GeorgeEli GeorgeEli George spent summer 2019 teaching Spanish to students at Concordia Language Villages in Minnesota. The job opportunity was brought to his attention by Mary Ellen Brines, a Spanish instructor, for whom he is a teaching assistant.

Concordia Language Villages, sponsored by Concordia University, were established in 1961. Originally, German was the only language taught. Since then, Spanish, French, Russian and other languages have been added. The school offers four-week immersion programs to educate the students on the language as well as the culture.

“I taught my own class of Spanish One working for Concordia’s high school credit program,” says Eli, an Alma College senior from Marysville. “I worked with colleagues who taught different levels of Spanish and was able to deliver a full year of Spanish One to students in four weeks.”

The instructors are able to choose a unique theme to teach in their classrooms. Eli chose “Indigenous Music” for his class.

“Since I’m a music major, I decided to tie in Spanish to music, so it was a really fluid transition,” says Eli, who taught three classes of high school students.

The opportunity gave Eli teaching experience and immersed him into another culture before graduation, says Brines, who also was a counselor for Concordia Language Villages during her junior year of college.

Drum majors, from left: Eli George, Ethan Chartrand, Stephanie Eckstorm.Drum majors, from left: Eli George, Ethan Chartrand, Stephanie Eckstorm.“The fact Concordia hired Eli as a teacher when he hasn’t graduated speaks highly of his ability,” says Brines.

Eli enjoyed working with colleagues in a different language because it gave him a chance to increase his knowledge of Spanish while teaching it to others. Through this opportunity, Eli says he learned the importance of preparation.

“Learning a new language at the same time as teaching a new language was really amazing,” he says. “It was a wonderful experience. It gave me the skills needed to work in a bilingual school district, which is what I hope to do in maybe Tucson, Arizona, working with ELL [English-Language Learner] students.”

Asia Patterson, a senior from Ludington, also spent the summer working as a counselor at Concordia Language Villages.

Eli is involved in many activities at Alma. He is a drum major for the Kiltie Marching Band, plays trumpet in the orchestra, teaches trumpet lessons as well as tutors and serves as a teaching assistant at the Spanish 100 level. After graduation, he plans to pursue a job as a middle or high school band director in Arizona.

Story published on September 30, 2019