Take an Immersive Approach
One of the best ways to learn a foreign language is to live in a country that speaks it for awhile. But not all of us can hop on a plane and spend 6 months in Chile, so we have to rely on the next best thing: Learning the language using techniques similar to those of an immersion program.
Given her experience learning Spanish in a native-speaking country as a child, instructor Jessica Lisovsky teaches her Spanish classes using the Natural Way. She focuses on helping you develop your language skills in a manner similar to how children learn their first language — using visuals, conversation, and more.
Learn more about Jessica, and then consider joining her for one of her Spanish the Natural Way classes in the future.
What classes do you teach for Seattle Central?
I teach Spanish the Natural Way (Beginning through Advanced levels) as well as a couple intensives on communication structures and Spanish fables and stories.
How long have you been teaching?
I’ve been teaching since the 1980s; I taught French and Spanish at Miami Central High School in Florida, and then started teaching Spanish at Seattle Central in 1990.
What's your educational & professional background?
I have a Bachelor’s in French and Spanish and a Master’s in Hispanic Studies.
What other kind of life experience do you have that influences what and how you teach?
My interest and propensity toward foreign languages and cultures began early in my life, with my parents.
My mother and father both spoke foreign languages and were always curious about other cultures.
My father was born in Europe and moved the family to Barcelona, Spain when I was 11 years old. I went to Spanish and French schools during the 7 years we lived there. I had family in Europe and my friends were all from non-American backgrounds.
Learning languages by living in-country or ‘immersed’ was a fascinating experience. There are times of great frustration rewarded by moments of insight and flashes of understanding that make communication with another human being seem almost magical.
I try to recreate those ‘moments’ for my students and always encourage them to travel and live in a foreign country so they might experience those moments and build on them.
What do you enjoy the most about teaching your classes at Seattle Central?
My students! I’m awed by their dedication and hard work and their willingness to enter into the activities I bring to class.
Learning a language is a bit like learning to play an instrument: It takes a long time to become an expert, but you can have fun in the process. Laughter is a big part of our classes.
Capitol Hill has always been a favorite neighborhood of mine. I like that SCC is a community focal point and hosts many interesting events that give voice to the central area of Seattle, as well as national and international issues.
The student body is very diverse and I feel very comfortable working in a place that is open to the world and its citizens.
Tell us about an inspirational teaching moment.
When a student reports that first experience of understanding — maybe it was interpreting for a Spanish-speaker who was in need, or they just broke through a grammar point that had dogged them — the excitement they show is what makes this work so rewarding for me.
- Zora Neal Hurston (Their Eyes Were Watching God)
- Everything Alice Walker, Barbara Kingsolver and Toni Morrison have written
- Being outdoors — gardening, walking, skiing, swimming, hiking and sketching in national parks
- I love so many movies so I’ll pick the most recent one that touched me deeply: Moonlight. It happens to take place in the Miami neighborhood where I taught high school for 6 years and I feel like I could have known the main character.
- Ruthie Foster singing Maya Angelou’s poem: Phenomenal Woman
- Spain is, of course, my home in many ways; I am always drawn to Barcelona where I spent my formative years. I have returned over and over to visit old friends and have watched it become an even more spectacular city with the opening of the city to the sea for the Olympics and the uniquely modernist architecture of Gaudi.
- After seeing many great capitals with all the wonders they have, my best memories are from road trips across the countryside in Spain, Cuba, Mexico, stopping to have lunch in dusty villages, exploring local ruins or points of interest and hanging out at the local cafe and chatting with folks over a beer.