AATSP of Georgia

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Raúl Fernández

Travel-Study Award


The Georgia Chapter offers an award of $500 to reimburse out-of-pocket expenses incurred during study abroad programs in Spanish or Portuguese-speaking countries. The award is given in loving memory of Raúl Fernández, a long time foreign language educator and advocate, and member of AATSP Georgia Chapter Executive Board, who was a vital force in creating the activities, awards, and opportunities that we offer our membership today. Following Raúl's passing in December 2008, this award, formerly given in memory of Julia Fernández, Raúl's mother, will now be offered annually in his memory. Candidates must have been a member of AATSP-GA for two consecutive years prior to applying for the scholarship, and must be a Georgia educator returning to the classroom the following school year to teach either Spanish or Portuguese.


Application Information


Congratulations to the
2016 recipient of the
Raúl Fernández
Travel-Study Award

Bertha Hernández Chong

Woodville Tompkins Technical and Career High School

Report from Madrid, Spain July 2016:


“Pursue opportunities that will change your life” is what I tell my students, but I am aware that these words will only resonate in their hearts if I truly set the example and provide them with evidence from my own journey. This summer, I completed a 50 hour  teaching course designed for Spanish teachers at Instituto Cervantes accredited language school, Don Quijote in conjunction with ENFOREX, in Madrid, Spain.  


The teacher course explored a variety of topics on dynamic teaching practices apt for all levels such as using authentic cultural content via literary texts, cinema, as well as integrating interculturality inside the classroom. Of course, advanced Spanish grammar was also a large part of our daily class schedule. It was extremely interesting to me and to my other American teacher colleague to see grammar presented using grammatical graphic organizers and/or explanations we had never either seen nor heard before that day. When proficiency levels were discussed, reference was often made to the Common European Framework for Languages. We had the opportunity to compare and contrast it with our ACTFL proficiency guidelines.  Additionally, we explored other topics such as gamification, and a daily one hour cultural lesson on Spaniard cultural topics such as Spaniard press, cinema, colloquialism, museums, photography, current events, political issues, economy and employment patterns during the last decades. 


The opportunity was incredibly enriching in ways beyond initially imagined. One of the best parts of my experience was the chance to collaborate with dedicated Spanish teachers from France, Italy, Holland, Poland, the Island of Guadeloupe, and one more from the United States. Although we each spoke different languages, we were united by a common goal, a desire to ameliorate our teaching practices in order to lead our high school students to Spanish fluency. Daily, even after our classes were over, we gathered to reflect, compare and contrast our practices, schools and support systems, technologies, and students. The talks with these ambassadors of the Spanish language led me to become even more aware and appreciative of the professional development provided by organizations such as ACTFL, AATSP, FLAG, and SCOLT as well as the technology and administrative support I have in my school as not everyone in the world has access to these. It reminded me of the importance to value and embrace all learning opportunities and resources provided to language teachers. 


While in Spain, I visited the city of three cultures, Toledo, simply breathtaking where I savored carcamusas toledanas, queso manchego, and masapanes. On several occasions, I joined the Madrid a Pie tour and during my visit to Toeldo, the Cuentame Toledo tour. These tours provided amazing learning experiences as told by professional local guides resulting in more cultural knowledge and experiences to share with my students. Finally, I cannot explain with words what it is like to stand before Picasso’s Guernica at El Prado,  Velazquez’s Las Meninas at the Reina Sofia Museum, or to closely observe the vast collection of artifacts from the history ancient American civilizations at the Museo de las Américas…and the food. Oh the food! There were many days when tortilla española and croquetas were part of my diet right outside Plaza Mayor followed by a visit to get my weekly dose of churros from San Ginés, the oldest and best churrería in the world. 


Finally, the best part of my experience was the incredible knowledge, passion,  modeling of techniques, and patience from ALL of our teachers at Don Quijote. The instructors exemplified expertise in the grammatical complexity of the Spanish language as they modeled admirable teaching techniques and were prompt to lead us to AHA moments in the intricacy of the subjunctive mood just to name an example. Yet, they still shared their culture, not just on the surface, and best practices with us. I am thankful to have chosen this as my summer experience and even more thankful to the Georgia AATSP Chapter for contributing to my professional growth. Thank  you!