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Evangel University student Jordan LeClaire sharpens skills teaching English in Chile

September 20, 2012 | Valorie Coleman

Language can be a barrier, or language can be a bond.

This is what senior Jordan LeClaire found out this summer during his three months in Valparaiso, Chile.

“It’s not that easy to step into a different culture,” LeClaire says. “You go into it thinking, ‘Oh yeah, I can speak Spanish.’ But it is humbling to try and communicate effectively.”

LeClaire is a Spanish Education major and a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) minor. He plans to teach high school Spanish, but his summer experience studying abroad and teaching English has him considering teaching abroad first.

“Right now I’m thinking I may want to teach in Latin America for at least a year. I found it beneficial to get a cultural perspective of where my students have come from,” he says.

The summer opportunity was provided through Evangel’s study abroad program.

Jordan LeClaire

Jordan LeClaire is a senior Spanish Education major at Evangel University.

“After I found out I was going to study in Chile, I was notified of the opportunity to add four weeks to my trip by volunteering,” LeClaire says. “After passing a language interview in Spanish, I was accepted.”

At the Best Work English Institute in Valparaiso, LeClaire taught adults and high school-age students, helping them with grammar and conversation skills.

“I was able to use the different methods and strategies that I learned in my TESL classes at Evangel to help my students learn English,” he says. “I know this experience has given me the skills needed to be a successful teacher. I am so grateful that I had this opportunity.”

At the end of his adventure, when LeClaire landed at the Dallas airport, the bond of language was re-enforced one last time. The woman at the currency exchange desk was listening to music in Spanish, and he commented. She immediately began to talk with him in Spanish.

As LeClaire walked away, counting his money, he realized the airport employee had not charged him a transaction fee. It was a small gesture that spoke volumes.

 Valorie Coleman, assistant director of public relations, Evangel University

TOP PHOTO CAPTION: Evangel senior Jordan LeClaire went snowboarding in the Andes Mountains in Chile this summer, as a break from the rigors of teaching English as a second language.

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