By Sasha W.

“You are all very motivated here, that is important. That you want to learn and you are curious and that you are here because you want to be here, not because you have to.” This is what Señora Liza Rivera, a new Spanish teacher at SEM, told me in an interview. She encourages students to learn for themselves, to learn because they want to. She admires the positive, welcoming environment we have at SEM and how the students are personally driven to succeed. 

In addition to loving our school, Señora Rivera has many different accomplishments of her own: a Ph.D. in Romance Studies and a Master’s in Iberic and Latin American Studies from the University of Paris Sorbonne, a Master’s in Didactics and Linguistics in French as a Foreign Language FLE, which stands for Français Langue Étrangère, whuch means French as a foreign language, from the University de Rennes 2, and a Master’s in Spanish from the University of Reims.

Señora Rivera speaks four different languages: Spanish, French, Italian, and English. She also has many different hobbies and interests, one of which is traveling. She has traveled to over eighteen countries all over the world. She loves to cook and try different styles of food. Though she enjoys all cuisines, her favorites are probably French and Italian. She also loves reading, some of her favorite books are “The Name of the Rose,” by Umberto Eco and “100 Years of Solitude,” by Gabriel García Márquez. 

Throughout her time at SEM, Señora Rivera has already become a big part of our Spanish Club. She is looking forward to potentially starting a Movie or Fitness Club. Señora Rivera has wanted to be a language teacher. She says that it was intuitive for her – she always knew that she would love teaching different languages to people. When she moved to Buffalo, she knew she loved SEM and knew she would really enjoy teaching here, which was solidified after she first took a tour of the school.

Part of how Señora Rivera is so successful in learning all of these languages is  her drive and self advocating. When she was a little girl, her dad would take her and her siblings to see films with subtitles in different languages, that is how her spark was ignited. She found it so fascinating how different languages worked and wanted to learn more. So she took action. She contacted embassies in Bogota (the capital of Columbia) and she started her collection of 25 dictionaries. They were a very large part of her success in language. She still has those dictionaries today. She knows that everyone’s path to learning a language is different, but she encourages everyone to try. “Everyone learns in a different way,” she says. “A way that works for me may not work for someone else.” She encourages every student to find their own way in learning a language.

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