Zuppan Helps Students Learn Languages for Real Life

EV Thurgood, Features Editor

After a rocky start to the school year, Valley has a new official French teacher, Jasmine Zuppan.

After attending college in France and majoring in the French language, Zuppan moved to Las Vegas and got hired to teach French classes 2, 3, and 4 at Valley High School.

“I really like learning,” Zuppan said, “and I like to share that with people. Especially with languages, it’s like a puzzle and when you figure it out… it opens up new things.”

One of the bases of learning a new language is being able to piece together words and phrases with prior knowledge and use this to communicate meaning. But she understands that even when being able to speak with people urgently, it still takes time.

“I love the language…. When I took it [French class] in high school, I would go home and talk to myself in French just to keep practicing, and that really helped me when I went to France,” Zuppan said. “I could have a basic conversation with somebody, but while living there it probably took me about three months to have a conversation, to feel like ‘ok, I can do this.’”

Being able to carry a conversation in a non first language presents challenges, especially when that dialogue comes up every time someone exits their house. Zuppan had to become fluent very fast, and because of this, she knows the kinds of challenges of learning a new language. But she is ready to help student’s face these challenges in the coming school year. One of the ways she helps students meet these challenges is by showing them how French actually impacts them so they are able to better understand why they should learn about languages.

“I love to teach with stories, and my favorite thing with stories is to ask students what do we want to put in the story, who do we want our character to be, where do we want them to go, what music are they going to listen to while they’re in the car?” Zuppan said. “Just to include anything exciting that we can from regular life, because language is real life. So if you can’t talk about your life, then you don’t want to learn about the language because it’s not relevant to you.”