“I’m too old to learn a new language, I wish had learned it sooner,” this is an excuse that Nikki Bannister, language instructor and owner of ACT Language Schools in Santa Rosa, has heard on various occasions when people refer to learning a second language, for which she responds with the old saying, “it’s never too late”.
She herself learned Spanish as an adult and motivates others to study a second language based on the current racial division circumstances happening in the United States: “I think it’s important to go out and expand your world in order to make deeper connections with people through their language, because we have a culture that can be very isolating and a mentality that you have to come to us and speak English.”
Bannister, who recently opened her language academy located in downtown Santa Rosa, has experienced a fair share of cases where deep-rooted organizations in Sonoma County have tried to reach the Spanish-speaking community, but have failed due to their lack of bilingual staff.
“I’m starting to work with businesses and employers who see the need for their employees to operate in another language and improve their English or Spanish skills.”
Bannister has gone from being a tutor, to a high school teacher, a traveler and an apprentice in Spanish in Latin America and other American academies, uses a technique called comprehensible input, in addition to another method promoted through the reading of stories developed in the 80s by Dr. James Asher known by its acronym TPRS.
“On back to school night, I received such a positive reaction from a lecture that I gave to the parents on the value of knowing a second language –a response that I wish high school students would have. For example, parents would comment on how they used to disregard the value of learning a second language during their school years and how they now acknowledge its importance as they’ve ventured into their careers,” Bannister said.
What followed were a list of excuses which she described as, “well you know, it was too late, that they were not good with languages, they wish they had learned it when they were younger. That’s when I thought about it, it’s not that they were not good with the language because they are using it to communicate with me right now and they are using it perfectly. The problem is that they have not had a good experience learning a second language.
“I like to remove those barriers so that people can implement the language on a daily basis,” Bannister said.
She encourages the initiative in learning of a second language for a variety of reasons, the most practical ones include having greater job opportunities and even for security reasons, “it’s just like law enforcement officers. They too have to learn to communicate in order to keep officers and citizens safe,” Bannister said.
“I see language as the key towards knowing a culture,” Bannister said. “In order to access a culture through language, you must get to know the people, their beliefs, the layers that come with history and their background.”
Bannister’s classes are currently being offered in English and Spanish, but she plans to expand services and add other languages such as Mandarin, French or Italian, in groups or in person. For more information, visit actlanguageschools.com or call 415-669-4167.
Noticias y eventos desde la región vinícola del norte de California para la comunidad latina.
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