Kasturi Anil Bagwe, Secondary Spanish Teacher, GEMS American Academy — Abu Dhabi can now add published author to her list of achievements.
Kasturi Anil Bagwe, Secondary Spanish Teacher, GEMS American Academy — Abu Dhabi (GAA) has taught Spanish as a foreign language for nine years, five of which were spent teaching the IB curriculum. She had previously worked with Rafael Angel Mendoza, the author of the main Spanish book used for the IB curriculum examinations, on several projects.
When Hodder Publishing approached her and her co-author, Monia Voegelin, to write a workbook to supplement the Spanish Ab Initio textbook, Rafael told her she should do it. “When students learn a foreign language and reach an intermediate level, they require a lot of grammar to support their acquisition of speaking and writing skills. We had to consider the students’ perspective and ask what they would need to practice more. Or, as a teacher, what would come in handy in the classroom. Resources when teaching a foreign language are very welcome because they’re not easy to make or to find, particularly resources tailored to the IB programme,” said Kasturi.
When compiling the book, she and Monia realised it will not just help the Spanish Ab Initio student, but any IB student taking an IB Spanish course. The book supplies all the basic grammatical tools that students need to practice, to improve from a beginner to an intermediate level.
Resources when teaching a foreign language are very welcome because they’re not easy to make or to find, particularly resources tailored to the IB programme.
Kasturi and Monia tried to align the workbook with the main Spanish Ab Initio book in that when doing IB language acquisition courses, students are not expected merely to do fillin- the-blank exercises or grammar exercises in isolation.
“We try to present grammar in a more conceptual way. Students do not learn the past tense just to be able to say ‘I saw, I ate, slept, I woke up’ but to use the tense in context to describe their daily routine or their last vacation, how to describe a good or bad day at school. We try to make exercises that are more contextual and conceptual. We tried to make the examples we used relatable to the students,” said Kasturi.
They also incorporated writing styles into the book, so students can learn how to write different formats such as an email, a diary entry, and a blog post. The book also features written tasks by anonymous students so the students can see examples of what they should do versus what they shouldn’t do. One thing that helped her with the book was an ongoing reflection on what was happening in her classroom.
“If we constantly reflect on what we’re doing in our classrooms and how we are doing it, it helps us become better. The whole education space is changing so rapidly, the way that students learn is changing. We cannot no longer teach them using the same methods we learned, we really must find different ways, every time, with every group that we are dealing with,” she said.