Spanish, with a touch of Kentucky slang

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Fawbush spends month teaching in Spain, visits several countries

By Meaghan Downs

Kayla Fawbush of Lawrenceburg, a recent graduate of Western Kentucky University, taught her international students more than just chemistry and physics.
She taught them how to say “y’all.”
“They had heard English, but they had never heard that accent before,” she said.
Fawbush, who spent a month overseas in La Garrita, Spain, student teaching this spring, said her students were very fluent in English, but not in accents.  
“‘Miss Kayla, please define  ‘y’all.’ What does that mean?’” Fawbush recalled one student asking. “They got to learn some Kentucky slang, I guess.”
Not very fluent in Spanish herself, Fawbush said teaching Spanish seventh, eighth and ninth graders was an adjustment, especially in terms of culture.
She had to make sure to be conscientious in converting her units into the metric system, she said, and to focus these typically independent students.
“I would never expect American students to be louder than me,” Fawbush said. “That’s just the difference in culture; they [Spanish teachers] encourage discussion.”
Fawbush said one of the positives of teaching in another country was the way the school worked together to make sure students were on track.
 “They’re just preparing them for when they want to go to college; they aren’t tested every year,” she said. “It was neat to see the entire school working together to make sure they were where they needed to be rather than being regulated by the government.”
One of 24 education majors from WKU, Fawbush lived in a flat above the private school where she taught every day from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
She said people back home would be surprised at how friendly the Spanish people were, even though Fawbush didn’t really speak the language.
“I feel like in America, if you look like a tourist, people are annoyed with you and are not helpful,” she said.
Fawbush, who graduated as a double major in mathematics and science and mathematics education with a certification in secondary education, is currently on the hunt for a job, and said she’s had one interview with the Anderson County school district.
Regardless of where she is employed, Fawbush said one of the things she’ll use in her future classroom after teaching overseas is her understanding of what international students go through when they come to America.
“I never really understood an international student,” she said. “I understand the shock of being in a different culture and being in a classroom. All of those things I had thought about before, but never really understood before I got there.”