Linking Languages

Student teacher Manuel Novas teaches his native language and Spanish culture in the BVNW foreign languages department.

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Linking Languages

Student teacher Manuel Novas goes for a walk in Spain, his native country.

Student teacher Manuel Novas goes for a walk in Spain, his native country.

photo provided by Manuel Novas

Student teacher Manuel Novas goes for a walk in Spain, his native country.

photo provided by Manuel Novas

photo provided by Manuel Novas

Student teacher Manuel Novas goes for a walk in Spain, his native country.

Brandon Fagen, Writer

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In December 2011, student teacher Manuel Novas came to the U.S. from Spain to start a teaching job at K-State. He taught Spanish for four years before coming to his school of choice, BVNW, to student teach.

“This is a strange environment for me, even the small details that look normal to you, like the lunch room,” Novas said. “I’m kind of a freshman.”

According to Novas, education in Spain is very different. In Spain, students don’t drive to school, but instead take public transportation. Teachers move from classroom to classroom and students stay in the same room. He said one of the most notable differences is students get to go home for a few hours in the middle of the day and then go back to school around 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. During this break time, students mainly eat lunch and rest.

Novas said the many cultural differences between Spain and the U.S. were a little overwhelming. For example, he used his first cafeteria tray at the beginning of this school year. But according to Novas, aside from teaching, learning and getting used to the different culture are his favorite parts.

“We can learn a language while we are working on different concepts at once: culture, history; it doesn’t have to be grammar, grammar, grammar, the language is the excuse to talk about many things,” Novas said. “I like promoting culture and building bridges between different people.”

Novas said he likes to give his students a more in-depth understanding of Spanish-speaking countries instead of just teaching them the language. He tries to do this in an entertaining way. Spanish teacher Heather Martens, the teacher Novas is working with at BVNW, said she believes he is successful at keeping students’ attention.

“He definitely adds some more humor and he brings in the perspective of someone who’s from Spain,” Spanish teacher Heather Martens said. “He can add to the culture that we talk about.”

Even though Novas is technically a teacher, he said he still learns lots of new things. He has had to get used to the American culture and teach students from a country he is unfamiliar with at many grade levels. While teaching students the Spanish culture, he also learns about U.S. culture from his students.

He learns from his students, but he also is evaluated by them in a similar way that he is evaluated by Martens. Students expect their teachers to not just be knowledgeable about the subject they are teaching, but to be proficient at teaching.

“He’s a good teacher, he brings some pretty good culture into the class,” sophomore Taylor Boardman, a student of Novas’s said.

Novas will leave BVNW to teach at Sunrise Point Elementary School until Christmas in the near future, but he said he has enjoyed his time at BVNW. After he finishes student teaching, he plans to look for jobs in the area. He said he would prefer to work in the Blue Valley school district because its language programs are recognized nationwide.

“I’m having a good time here and I had a good time at K-State,” Novas said. “It is not just the students that learn from the teacher; the teacher also learns from the students.”