Jessica Lisovsky was raised and educated in a variety of cultures. She grew up in a bicultural family -- Czech father, American mother.
The family moved to Barcelona, Spain in the 60's where Jessica attended a Spanish girl's school and later the French Lycée of Barcelona.
Her undergraduate degree is in French and she earned her Master’s Degree in Hispanic Studies while living in Miami, Florida -- a truly bilingual community.
Jessica has worked as an interpreter and taught French and Spanish in a variety of situations over the past 35 years. She has worked as an instructor in both the credit and non-credit programs at Seattle Central College for the last 25 years.
Jessica continues to travel to Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean (including Cuba), visiting friends and family. She recently traveled to Spain and Costa Rica, and plans to visit Nicaragua in the near future.
Jessica's Teaching Style & Approach
The basic philosophy of the Natural Approach, the way I interpret it, is that the instructor functions as the 'adult native speaker' in the environment, ie, the classroom.
In the natural setting, a child learns language by imitating the adult native speakers in her/his environment. So I am what's called the 'model.' Also, in the real world of language acquisition, there are lots of props around to help get meaning across. Parents don't talk to their children about things in a vacuum. 'Eat your spinach, honey!' is never said unless a bowl of spinach is part of the context. The child sees the spinach at the same moment as the adult gives the command and in many cases, the adult will take a bite to 'model' the outcome they want, using an inclusive command like: 'Let's eat our spinach!' This way, the language is acquired at an intuitive level rather than through a strictly left-brain didactic process.
When presenting material to students, I always try to make it as visual (as well as auditory) and real as possible, including:
- I use my own experience/my life, to model what I'd like from them
- I use a LOT of humor because anxiety in the student sets up a filter that interferes with learning (plus it's more fun!)
- I bring realia, props, pictures
- I use 'Live Action Stories' (simple and fun list of commands with props) that students re-enact for practice
- I use music, singing, rhymes that students can repeat easily
- We play games and team activities -- a good way to break up more left-brain grammar explanations
I try to have many short activities and ways for students to work together in small groups. This fosters connection and collaboration among the students. I function more as a facilitator/coach/booster sometimes.
In this multi-level program, the atmosphere of the classes is relaxed, interactive, playful. I endeavor to make students feel free to question -- even debate -- and share their opinions.
As students gain fluency, they have more chances to apply the linguistic skills they have gained toward real-life discussions in the target language.
She is a fantastic teacher! The class is fun, and I'm learning Spanish faster than I expected I would!
I love Jessica (Andrea in class) and her teaching style. She makes learning fun and never stops encouraging you. She also lets you know that the things that you are struggling with are normal and that we will continue learning them in the present and in future classes. Thus far that has proven to be true. -- Mary Lynn Hepler
I have found Jessica's approach to teaching Spanish to be very effective and engaging. I always enjoy the classes and appreciate the opportunities to work with other students in creative ways and to get to know each other. Jessica makes learning Spanish fun while at the same time encouraging us to keep improving our skills. I enjoy all parts of the classes but especially the TPR and the writing homework.
The instructor is excellent -- well-organized, caring about and patient with students, and presents the language in fun way with a lot of variety.
The instructor users a wide variety of material that keeps things fun and Interesting. I have a great time learning every lesson I'm in her class.