Pilar Santos has been teaching Spanish at Taft for the past 15 years. As a native speaker, she brings a unique perspective to the classroom.
“I see both sides of the problem—I know what it is like to decode a foreign language, because I had to learn English. My biggest goal is for my students to sound authentic. We are very lucky here at Taft to be able to bring people from all over the world to teach languages. I also like to give my students the background. Comprehension of a language goes beyond the vocabulary. To appreciate a Spanish text, movie, piece of news, etc., you must know about the culture, the history, the music, the politics.”
Santos is also the coordinator of School Year Abroad, and the International Students’ Advisor.
“I’m in charge of the orientation program. I start communication with new international families, help make travel arrangements, help them arrange for insurance and books, and facilitate a general transition to Taft. It’s difficult to send your child so far away. I want parents to know their kids are going to be taken care of.”
And Santos knows what it feels like for students to be very far from home.
“When I got here it was my first time in America. I was dropped off in this new place with 80 kilos of luggage, knowing no one. And the very day I arrived, I was invited to a birthday party at someone’s house. This campus is a place where people really get to belong. They feel this is home. That’s what makes Taft different. It is our home, and our students feel at home.”