Described by ACG Strathallan students as unique, fun and a little unconventional, Elisabet Monsell-Davis is clearly focused on the welfare of her young charges.
A firm proponent of the principle that happy students are successful students, the vibrant, dynamic Spanish teacher intertwines a strong element of pastoral care into her lessons. As a result, Spanish scholars of all ability levels are flourishing and continually achieve the best learning outcomes.
“Pastoral care is an important aspect of my teaching,” she explains. “I feel it is important to connect with students, and to do this, you need to understand that each student comes to class with different needs and different expectations. I would like to think that I create an ‘ALL are welcome’ environment, where making mistakes, and discovering how to correct them, is essential to learning.”
By tailoring her lesson plans to the individual needs of her students, Elisabet goes to great lengths to create active rather than passive learners. Through her collaborative, student-centred approach, she builds self-belief and confidence, empowering students to reach their potential in a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable classroom atmosphere.
“I like to provide an opportunity for everyone to participate in their own way. I was shy at school, but that did not mean that I was not engaged in class. However, when it came to speaking up in class, I did not get involved. I was better at doing work on my own or in a small group. As a teacher, I try to remember this and encourage students in different ways.”
With more than 300 million native speakers, Spanish is the fourth most spoken language across the world and the second most important language for international communication. The benefits of studying this fascinating subject are far-ranging for Strathallan students, opening a global network of travel and career possibilities.
“When learning about other cultures, you are exposed to a different way of thinking which challenges your ideas. It can make you a more tolerant and open-minded person, as it offers an insight into other cultures,” confirms Elisabet.
“Learning a second language develops a variety of skills – communication, presentation, problem-solving, organisation, and independence. Additionally, it can help to improve your English as it heightens your awareness of structure and grammar.”
As a native Spanish speaker herself, the experienced educator has the ability to make the language and culture come alive for her classes. To keep the coursework engaging and inspiring, Elisabet uses resources and materials that are as authentic as possible, such as unusual or intriguing newspaper articles she finds online. This includes a conversation-provoking report from early 2020, where three Bolivian brothers tried to gain Spiderman-like powers by allowing themselves to be bitten by a black widow spider.
Her quirky sense of humour also helps her to connect with students, alongside her certainty that you need to have fun and communicate in a language class.
“I love teaching kids about both my language and my culture, and for them to be passionate about what they are learning. This excitement and enthusiasm is especially true for languages. In my classes, students can expect laughter and enjoyment whilst learning.”
The rewards of teaching are many for Elisabet, but none so much as the thrill students experience when conversing with her in Spanish – a skill they didn’t initially think was possible.
“I love being in class with people whose minds are still developing. I get pure joy when I see what I call a ‘light bulb’ moment. When I am trying to explain something, and I can see the students’ reaction as they come to understand it. That is very rewarding.”
When not focusing on vocabulary and sentence structure, the dedicated teacher adores spending time with her family, and can often be found courtside, watching her 14-year-old daughter compete at tennis – a game they both enjoy.
And her advice for both her daughter and her students is as simple as it is effective.
“Give everything a go. Don’t hide behind I can’t do it, it’s too hard! Yes, you can do it, and you will do it if you try!”