All posts by Richard Harris

Well known community member recommends Camila Peterson

I started taking classes from Camila with no prior Spanish language experience, and within a year I was fully conversational. Camila makes classes practical, engaging and fun. We sit around her kitchen table talking about things that matter to us, in Spanish. Besides being an incredibly effective Spanish teacher, Camila is a wonderful person! I have recommended Camila’s classes to anyone I know who wants to learn Spanish and enjoy doing it.

— Jane McConnell

High school student off to Paraguay

When I found out I would be going to Paraguay for 8 weeks with the Amigos program, I thought it would be a good idea to learn some Guarani, their native language.  My parents had taken Spanish lessons from Camila and knew she also speaks Guarani.  In five or six lessons with Camila I developed a good foundation that helped me a lot in Paraguay.  My host family was so excited to speak their first language with me, and the foundation I got from Camila prepared me to continue learning from them as well.

— Boulder High School Senior

I owe it to Camila for being so passionate about what she does

“I have come a long way in only two months of classes with Camila. The way that she teaches has you speaking in sentences immediately. The lessons, along with the homework she assigns, make studying and learning the language very successful.

“I also love learning Spanish in her home instead of in a classroom with a lot of people. It’s more personal with one-on-one communication among a smaller group of other students, and less intimidating than a classroom setting. My family and friends are noticing the rapid rate at which I’m learning Spanish – they’re amazed.

“I recently had my first interaction with a Hispanic tenant: the father didn’t speak English and I had to explain to him that I needed to change the combo of the entry door to the apartments – and that we do this every six months for security reasons.

“Normally, I would have a bilingual case manager translate. But this time, I referred to what I had already learned in Spanish class and thought of the main words that would get my message across. Of course, I didn’t speak perfectly and I missed some words – but I had gained the confidence to communicate with the tenant which, in the end, was a successful exchange.

“Learning a new language is very difficult, but it’s just as difficult to work up the confidence to initiate a conversation. This is a huge step for me, and I owe it to Camila for being so passionate about what she does.”

Caleb Milne
Maintenance Supervisor
Emergency Family Assistance Association (EFAA)

Camila’s class has inspired a new love for Spanish

“Learning Spanish supports my work as a College and Career Counselor for teen residents who live with Boulder Housing Partners. In my work with Spanish-speaking families, I have been able to communicate more clearly with parents, have a better understanding of their needs and interests, and have become more open and trusted as a service provider and community member.

“I entered Camila’s class with a moderate understanding of the Spanish language, from having traditional Spanish classes in middle school and exploratory Spanish language lessons during my travels to Cuba and Central America. Camila’s teaching style has clarified and reinforced the roles and uses of the various tenses. I can say less and have more direct meaning, in addition to being clearer with my sentence structure and having a more developed vocabulary.

“Camila’s class has inspired a new love for the Spanish language – and I feel much more confident speaking and listening to others. Camila creates a space where I can learn vocabulary for my work, and we engage in interesting conversations about our community…and the world.”

Annie Beall, AmeriCorps Volunteer, Boulder Housing Partners and “I Have a Dream” Foundation

As a person and teacher, Camila is fantastic

Agrees Mary Green, Educational Opportunities Coordinator, Boulder Housing Partners: “Ninety percent of the people we serve speak Spanish at home, so a lot of us here speak Spanish at least at some level – and we support those who don’t. Through an anonymous donor, The Community Foundation helps us to expand our Spanish-speaking capacity.

“While I studied Spanish in the past, I wasn’t able to speak or communicate. Unlike a lot of Spanish classes that are writing- and grammar-based, Camila’s approach is based in reality. We talk about what we do at work, and we’re gaining confidence to immediately and directly apply our new Spanish skills.

“As a person and as a teacher, Camila is fantastic. The curriculum she’s put together is really, really great. We don’t just do dialogues and answer questions – we talk about politics and we express our opinions. We kind of look at the whole picture – in Spanish.”

— Mary Agnes Green, Boulder Housing Partners

Community Foundation donor sponsors Camila Peterson

Sponsored by an anonymous Community Foundation donor – a local family that strongly believes in inclusivity, and that nonprofits who serve Latino residents can provide better service if more of their staff speak Spanish – Camila Peterson is earning rave reviews for her practical, conversation-oriented Spanish classes.

“I’ve been doing this for more than 30 years,” says the native speaker from Paraguay who began teaching Spanish as a second language to Peace Corps volunteers, American businessmen and missionaries there. When Camila and her husband – a former Peace Corps participant – moved to Boulder, she worked for K-Mart in order to learn English and American culture.

“I teach for people to speak,” she says. “After just 20 hours, you can have a basic conversation in Spanish.”

Indeed, Camila’s interactive method simulates an immersion experience. “You will learn Spanish as if you were living in a native Spanish-speaking land and had to speak to survive,” she says. “What The Community Foundation is helping to promote, is that speaking in the same language builds understanding.”

— Community Foundation of Boulder County Newsletter

I finally got to where I could speak Spanish!

I have tried repeatedly in my life to learn Spanish, starting in middle school, and then with a couple of years in high school, a year in college, and then some informal classes after college. It wasn’t until I met Camila 25 years later that I finally got to where I could speak Spanish!  She has two things going for her that other teachers don’t seem to have. First, she has created a curriculum that uses exercises where we get to ask and answer questions that are real. These are set up so we can practice using pronouns, direct objects, and indirect objects, but through them, we learn vocabulary too. It was hard at first, but now I can put “lo” and “se” and “nos” in sentences without much struggle. It is surprising how important these little words are!

The second gift she brings to the classroom is that she creates bonds between herself and the students, and among the students. By weaving us together with stories from our lives, we grew to care about each other, and that makes going to class a bit like getting together with old friends. We help keep each other motivated. To be a part of Camila’s class is to be a part of Camila’s extended family, and that is a treat.

– Wendy

I moved to speaking comfortably, though imperfectly, when traveling to South America

Camila is a pleasure to learn from, a teacher who gives fully her time and knowledge, who teaches from a deep commitment to education and love of her idiom. Her classes are engaging and I find myself learning quickly and easily. In one year of intermittent classes I have moved to speaking comfortably, though imperfectly, when traveling to South America. She teaches from the heart. Classes are small and intimate, and conversations are often funny and lively. I recommend her highly.

– Pia

My highest recommendation for my teacher and friend

I would like to offer my highest recommendation for my teacher and friend Camila. I have been in her classes for 5 years. I can speak proficiently and read in Spanish. I had no other language experience. I have recommended her classes to many people who are surprised at how quickly they are speaking after just a few classes. She is professional and prepared for every class.

– Karen