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Magazine

Spanish-- yes, you can learn it online!
Ray Leven, Spanish teacher online, Spanish teacher online

Editor's Note from Susan Richman: I've heard about Ray Leven and his amazing Spanish-teaching ability for years, as he was the Spanish tutor for a wonderful homeschooling family that I met with annually for evaluations. Ray had long experience teaching Spanish, including AP Spanish, a Philadelphia-area public and private schools (he was also a top Hebrew teacher, too--this man is just fabulous with languages!). Even with his busy teaching schedule, Ray made time for weekly in-depth tutoring for this family, working with both the son and his parents together-- and Ray came to love working with homeschooling families. And I always felt that this student was gaining an exceptional background in Spanish-- much beyond what I saw in families relying just on something 'automated' like Rosetta Stone, useful as those types of programs can be in introducing a new language. Getting close to retirement options, Ray began wondering if homeschoolers might like to learn Spanish with him online-- and soon we were talking in depth about how he could deliver an AP Spanish course with our PA Homeschoolers program. Ray is also branching out into offering online classes in Beginning and Intermediate level Spanish. Read on and find out how you can be involved-- and realize that there are ways other than a local class or tutor or a computerized program to help your child really develop ability with another language. And you'll also all benefit from Ray's many world travels, as you can see in this photo!
DSCN1976 (1).JPG
Ray Leven touring at La Piramide de la Luna (Pyramid of the Sun-- in Teotihuacán, Mexico)
 
This is my first year working for PA Homeschoolers in their AP Online program, leading AP Spanish Language, and my first experience teaching online. I have been fortunate to meet wonderful families with highly motivated and interesting children whom I teach each week on Skype in Spanish. Learning the technology and having everyone in sync is a minor challenge, certainly dwarfed by the enthusiasm and the high-powered learning of students eager to master Spanish.
 
My AP Spanish class is truly exciting.  With about half the year gone, we have read and analyzed Nobel-prize-winner Garcia Marquez's novel No One Writes to the Coronel, and six stories from the collection of Ana Maria Matute, an award-winning writer from Spain.  Students went beyond the surface of each novel, researching the life and times of the authors and identifying symbolic and personal elements in each of the literary works. Comparing and contrasting themes and plot elements are crucial for successful interpretation of the author's goals. At the same time we are analyzing literature, we are reviewing grammar principles  through online oral drills, written homework, compositions, and oral presentations on current and often controversial subjects.
 
My Intensive Intermediate Spanish class is geared for students who have had some formal training in basic Spanish and who would benefit from a review. While we use an interactive textbook with state-of-the-art technologies, our time together on Skype is devoted to intense conversation with the goal being fluent self expression. Although the written, reading, listening and oral homework averages only between 15 and 20 minutes a day, results have been incredible: our class runs almost exclusively in Spanish and students are learning at a very fast clip. The students I teach are clearly gaining from the exercises on the computer designed by the publisher for our textbook as well as the tasks I give them weekly.  My goal is always to have the students personalize what they are studying and to own what they are learning,  And through it all, we manage to do a lot of laughing as we learn!
 
In September 2012, I will be offering four courses online:   Beginner's SpanishIntensive Intermediate, Advanced Seminar, and AP Spanish. 
 
The introduction of Beginner's Spanish affords the  student new to studying this language the full exposure to all the skills and cultural richness of Spanish heritage, with the goal of establishing a very solid foundation for all future courses in Spanish.  Students will do lots of oral work with me and online with the computer program (which has listening features as well as reading and writing self-assessments and drills)
 
Advanced Spanish Seminar should be thought of as the 3rd or 4th year of study, emphasizing the synthesis and honing of skills, vocabulary and structural expansion and introduction to literary pieces.  Students in this class will learn to carry on a conversation, read a long selection, write a cohesive essay, and understand when another person speaks Spanish.  Students will use other sources such as the Internet and TV to augment their exposure to Spanish.  Weekly presentations in class in Spanish will show student's ability to compose thoughts and express them intelligently in Spanish.
 
For more information, email me at:   rayleven27@gmail.com

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