“When I was in Spanish 3, my school offered a scholarship to students to study in Mexico. I decided to give it a try. [But] I just didn’t have the confidence in the language at the time. And that changed my life. I spent a summer in Mexico studying with other American students from around the country, lived with a family and I just had the greatest time of my life.”
Cheri Quinlan is my guest for Episode 33. Cheri is passionate about languages and cultures, as the many who have benefitted from her excellent workshops, trainings, and resources know. Cheri’s humility means she is focused on hearing YOUR story about language and culture in your life — and if you have not yet gotten bitten by the “bug,” to gently and joyfully share with you just what a delightful life experience you have been missing.
Cheri Quinlan’s Bio
Cheri Quinlan, a Jersey girl living in a Delaware world.
Anyone who knew me as a young child and even as a teenager would be quite surprised to find out where my career took me. I was extremely quiet and shy, reticent to speak in my Spanish class. In tenth grade, I skipped my dad’s graduation from the FBI National Academy because I was concerned about missing one class, Spanish. I thought I’d never be able to catch up! Starting my college career at the local community college I was intimidated by a few native speakers who knew so much more Spanish than I. But I persevered. As a teacher, my shyness melted away in the classroom. But, it stayed with me as I took on other roles such as class advisor. Whenever I was asked to speak to the entire class, I handed the mic over to the class president under the guise that the students should be in charge. (Actually, they should be but for me, at that time, it was more of an excuse).
After teaching for a number of years at the middle school through community college level, I took on the role of district supervisor for fine arts and world languages. Some years later I was encouraged to apply for the state-level world language position. In addition to world languages, I was the coordinator for international education and gifted and talented. I like to say that it is the only time in my life that I was labeled gifted and talented. After “retiring,” I took on the role of consultant doing work for Vista Higher Learning and the Delaware Department of Education.
All of my career has focused on world languages; however, only 13 of those years were dedicated solely to Spanish. I had worked so hard to develop a high level of proficiency in Spanish and did not want to lose that. So, I volunteered to work with the Spanish ministry in my church. And, any opportunity I get to this day to use my language skills, I do. Some people may be surprised to learn that my best subject in school was math but I did not enjoy it. My favorite subject in school was Spanish and I loved the social aspect of learning a language and exploring other cultures, developed an affinity for travel, and spent my life from age fourteen to present day taking advantage of every opportunity to learn more about the language and its culture.
If you are a world language person, join your professional organizations (state, regional, national) and take advantage of the many professional development opportunities available both in person and virtually. Expand your professional library. If I had to recommend just one book to add to your library it would be What the Best College Teachers Do by Ken Bain. The lessons of that book which I read years ago stay with me to this day.
To learn more about previous guests on It’s About Language or access other episodes of the podcast, visit It’s About Language or click on the Podcast tab above.