Modern Languages

Ella Spencer

Language and Culture Assistant

Major(s)

Anthropology & Sociology

Minor(s)

Spanish, Latin American Studies, and Peace & Social Justice Studies

Current Position

Language and Culture Assistant (auxiliar de conversación)

Employer

CEIP Julián Besteiro, Madrid public primary school

About

Throughout my time at Ursinus, I witnessed the liberal arts’ prioritization of discussion-based classes and critical thinking, allowing me to learn from professors that greatly influenced my passions, understanding of the world, and overall trajectory. Within the Modern Languages department, I was first inspired by Latin American Studies 200, a course that intersected with my interests in culture, social justice, and history, in addition to my studies of the Spanish language. As a junior, I studied abroad in Sevilla, Spain, a formative experience that allowed me to live with a host family, step outside of my comfort zone, and further discover my passion for intercultural communication.

Returning to Ursinus for my senior year, I began teaching English as a Second Language to Latin American immigrants at ACLAMO, led tours for the Berman Museum, and took two courses with Dr. Cornelio that gave rise to a valuable mentorship. My knowledge of Spanish enabled profound classroom discussions about indigenous resistance to colonialism in the Americas, but also meant that I could use my language skills as an automatic connection with the community around me. It led to meaningful friendships with Araceli, at the museum and Marta, the Fulbright Teaching Assistant from Spain. My experience abroad, course of study, and people I met along the way inspired me to pursue further work in intercultural communication and foreign language.

Impact of Ursinus

Teaching ESL and my interests in bridging language barriers and cultural differences has followed me to Spain, where I am partaking in the Madrid government’s bilingual initiative to bring native speakers and cultural ambassadors to affiliated schools. Every 45 minutes, I switch classrooms, allowing me to work with a variety of teachers and students and witness a different country’s education system. I plan interactive lessons that encourage English acquisition, and even have the opportunity to introduce the community to new customs or traditions, such as a celebration of Hanukkah that allowed me to express my personal identity and simultaneously feel closer to home. In addition, I tutor after school within my students’ home environments, promoting further one-on-one conversation and cultural exchange.