By Faith W.
We warmly welcomed Ms. Megan Lyons into the Buffalo Seminary community this year, and she has shared a few of her favorite aspects of working at SEM. “I love coming into a classroom full of students who want to learn and want to be here,” Ms Lyons said. She is grateful to all of the people who are a part of the community for creating such a “great team” of people who make the atmosphere of the building brighter each day.
“I learned about linguistics and found out I was absolutely in love with it,” Ms. Lyons said when asked about her history before coming to teach at Buffalo Seminary. Teaching Spanish wasn’t always the main goal of her academic career. Initially, she wanted to go to school for the fine arts, but soon changed her mind and her major to Spanish with a minor in linguistics at the University at Buffalo.
She was inspired by numerous teachers throughout high school and college including Shirley Melston, Linda Seitz, and Doctora Bárbara Ávila-Shah. Melston was a Spanish, French, and German teacher who first introduced Ms. Lyons to linguistics. Seitz was her German teacher that promoted language immersion in the classroom. Ávila-Shah was a Spanish professor who had a huge impact on Ms. Lyon’s teaching, not only because she taught how to teach a new language but also by “leading by example.”
Ms. Lyons cited her professor’s classes as an excellent example of the impacts of immersion in the target language, and she mirrors this by practicing that in her own classroom.
As far as her teaching career prior to SEM, she had many experiences teaching. While she studied abroad in Spain, she was a student teacher. She taught English as a second language to students in Costa Rica and online to students in China, and then went on to teach Spanish at UB.
Ms. Lyons shared her reasoning as to why she believes learning a second language is important, “it’s more authentic sharing.” There is a great deal of culture, humor, and nuance that are lost when the other person has to switch to your language, and conversation can be more fulfilling especially if both are bilingual. Learning Spanish, for example, can give an insight into Latin, which can be useful in math, sciences, and etymology of words. On top of the benefits in academics and social relationships, learning a new language can open up an entire world of new pop culture to enjoy. “It is more of an equal playing field,” Ms Lyons said.
Watching the progress from the beginning of the year up until now, she is both impressed by and proud of her students as a whole. She is happy that students seem to be becoming more comfortable raising their hands to answer questions, as well as conversing in the target language to their peers in class. She hopes this trend will continue since practicing conversational skills will truly help in the long run.
As a final note of encouragement, Ms Lyons said, “it gets easier.” She acknowledges that learning a new language can be stressful or seem utterly impossible, but it will get better. As with most things in life, getting there is hard, but the final result is very rewarding.