Cover Photo: Humberto Flores shows Sandy Stuart a bilingual children’s book during his Spanish tutoring class. Photo by Kathy Feist
Speaking Spanish just might be good for your health
By Kathy Feist
In the last few years,studies have shown that learning a foreign language may generate benefits for older adults. These improvements includebetter cognitive function, self-esteem, and increased opportunities for socializing.
Humberto Flores is well aware of these benefits and more. It’s one of the reasons he teaches Spanish twice a week at the Red Bridge Mid-Continent Library located in the Red Bridge Shopping Center.
“It’s fun to learn a language and make friends,” he says. “It’s a good experience all around.”
Flores says most of his students are retired. His oldest student was a 92-year-old woman who took his class along with her two friends. “They were a hoot!” says Flores.
Flores develops his own lesson plans based on his previous experience. He has previously taught Spanish at Sprint headquarters, where he was employed prior to retirement, St. Joseph Medical Center and the Leawood library.
Flores was born in Peru but raised in New York City.
He says he likes to incorporate his Spanish culture into the lessons so his students have a deeper understanding of the language. That might include seeing a Spanish speaking movie or a trip to Dos de Oros. “I want to immerse them in Spanish,” he says. When it comes to actually conversing with a stranger, Flores is encouraging. “I tell them ‘Don’t be afraid. Use what you know,’ he says.
Flores says it takes about six to eight weeks before his students feel confident in speaking Spanish.
“It’s important to make learning fun and not stressful,” he says.
It must be working. “After a while, people come to class because they want to.”
Flores also tutors middle and high school students. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 816-304-1481.