Yoán is a Musician, a Wordsmith and an Amazing Spanish Teacher with Strommen.
Our teachers are the best and they deserve to be highlighted. In our new section, Strommen Teacher Spotlights, we will ask our best teachers a few fun questions and let them take it away from there.
Where are you from and where have you lived?
Yoán: I am from the glorious city of Miami, Florida. At 21 I moved to Brooklyn, NY, where I lived for three years. I moved to Los Angeles in September of 2016. I have also spent a few months in Colombia with family and in France as a student. I miss everything about Miami: the beach, the food, my family, the sun and the humidity.
You are one of Strommen’s most popular Language teachers. Students tell us how awesome you are all the time. Why do you think that is?
Yoán: Cause I’m nice! But seriously, I think it is because of the environment my students and I create. Our classes are just that: ours. I don’t try to implant my manner of speaking on anyone but rather try to give them the tools to express themselves so that we can have conversations. I do not want my students to be repetitive, I want them to be creative. This makes class more collaborative and it doubles as a fail-safe. Didn’t do your homework? No problem, we’re going to improvise a conversation. You know, like in real life! My style is very low-stress and I think this is a welcome change for hard workers in the 21st Century.
What languages do you speak? What languages do you teach?
Yoán: I speak English and Spanish at the native level and so these are the two I am equipped to teach. I have dabbled in many languages but the ones I study the most intensively are Portuguese and Japanese.
What do you miss most about your home town?
Yoán: I miss everything about Miami: the beach, the food, my family, the sun and the humidity.
What is the coolest job you had with Strommen?
Yoán: I’m currently working with Latin American marketing executives at Netflix. So I see and hear pretty interesting things around the office!
What are your interests outside of teaching at Strommen?
Yoán: Outside of teaching I am a musician and a Master of Arts in Literature student at Loyola Marymount University. I play in an instrumental group called Copán that blends heavier, aggressive rock styles with Afro-Cuban rhythms and electronic loops. Check us out on Spotify ;).
How do you stay connected to your home country in LA?
Yoán: It’s easy! I’m from the United States! If you mean my heritage (Colombian and Cuban), then through travel, literature and family.
Any advice for beginners to your language?
Yoán: Seek the proper help! Spanish is insanely “do-able,” but you’re going to need a map. There are many, many great resources and books out there but what will catalyze your learning is a good guide. Believe it or not, Spanish does have a beginning and an end. That being said, you need to cultivate a habit of practice which is something the student must do alone. And Spanish is a giver: the more you put into it, the more it over-reciprocates. Think of it this way: if you spend 15 minutes learning the basic foods, you will never run out of menus to read; the mere prevalence of the language will give you endless chances to practice. You won’t be able to un-see it.
Why did you start teaching?
Yoán: I started teaching for many reasons, though the main reason is that I wanted to engage in productive, meaningful work. I feel that the work I do is that of relationship-building. I help people learn to communicate in an alternate language for whatever purpose they wish. It is important to me that my teaching lead somewhere, that it show progression.
What did you do before teaching
Yoán: I started teaching at 21 years old. Before then, I worked as a manager at a bookstore in NYC as well as at an office and have done a lot of translation work. I have also been a working and touring musician since I was 15.
Do you like working with Strommen? Why?
Yoán: I enjoy working with Strommen because of the autonomy I’m afforded. Working with a rigid curriculum is ridiculous because, while there are surely fundamentals that all students must learn, there is no good reason to make them learn in the same order or at the same level of intensity. We live in an age of customization and education is no exception. I am also grateful to have met my students, all of which Strommen sent my way.
What is your favorite thing about teaching your language specifically?
Yoán: Spanish, because it is both highly systematic and simple, lends itself to relaxed teaching and study methods. While the language does have its quirks, it is easy to present the language panoramically and this allows me to pinpoint for the student how far they have come and what remains. This makes the work of teaching and learning more enjoyable because we never feel like we’re lost in the wilderness. It’s a language that wants to be learned.