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Multilingual Sub Fills in for French
January 30, 2023
Could you imagine teaching a semester-long class as a substitute when you’re not officially trained to teach the subject? Amanda Fisher can. A substitute teacher since 2019, she is filling in as the teacher for the French classes this semester at FCHS. Throughout her substitute teaching career, she has never taught a semester-long class before. However, Fisher has done substitute jobs in 7th Grade Language Arts and high school band for about six weeks per class. “It might seem a little strange to have a sub for a Fine Arts class, but I actually grew up in the band playing many instruments,” Fisher said.
Although French might not be a native language for Fisher, she said she enjoys teaching these classes very much. “It is not easy to teach a language that isn’t one that I have used natively or recently, but honestly, these classes have been a real joy to teach,” she said. Since this is her first time having to create lessons for a class, doing so can be difficult. “I think the biggest challenge is making sure that my lessons are effective for different learning styles,” Fisher said.
Being married with three children and having to teach, work, and parent at the same time is a lot to juggle. “I have to be very disciplined about managing my own time outside of school so that I show up adequately prepared,” Fisher said. However, she says, “I also want to acknowledge that my students, on the whole, come prepared to learn and be active participants in these classes. It makes a big difference.”
Growing up, Fisher learned to speak several languages. “My native languages are Chinese (two dialects: Mandarin and Cantonese) and of course, English,” she said. In high school, Fisher took Latin and even competed in Latin competitions. She also studied Spanish and French in college and on her own. “Having a strong Latin foundation really made the Romance languages accessible to me,” Fisher said.
When she lived in Northern Virginia, Fisher helped teach ESOL (English as a Second Language) classes in the evening. “A majority of our students came from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Colombia,” she noted, adding that it provided a great opportunity for her to practice Spanish while the students practiced English.
Fisher is currently working on adding Russian, Arabic, and Japanese to her vocabulary. “I have always loved languages, and there is a certain amount of respect you earn when you make the effort to speak to someone in their native tongue,” she explained. “Being able to speak more than one language has opened many doors for me when traveling,” she added.
Fisher is taking online classes at South New Hampshire University to obtain her degree in Mathematics as it is her goal to become a full-time teacher. “Something I love about being a substitute teacher is that I get to share my very wide range of interests, from math, to fine arts, to language arts, and science,” she said. “While I am passionate about many things, my one true love is really learning itself,” she noted.
Outside of school, Fisher has been training in and practicing karate for six years. She’s even gotten her black belt in Shotokan Karate. She first started when her oldest child began the classes, and the oldest now has a black belt as well. “My two older kids and I both had the opportunity to represent the USA at the WKF World Championships,” Fisher said, adding “I even got to bring home a gold in kumite (sparring).” She and her kids really enjoy karate. “Karate is an amazing discipline for anyone who wants to build self-confidence and perseverance,” she said.