Learning Spanish has been a highlight of my retirement in Sun City West, and teaching in Club Español has been great. I have so enjoyed the people in my classes – the good humor, camaraderie and commitment of our ongoing efforts to learn a new language. In university I studied French and Russian, and after graduating I taught elementary and high school French for a few years. Then I went to law school and practiced law until retirement. Now I learn and teach Spanish for the sheer pleasure of it. Most of my Spanish instruction has been right here in our club, and supplemented by an immersion program in Salamanca, Spain and a few other classes.
I began studying Spanish in my first year of high school and loved it from the beginning. For me, conjugating verbs was like playing a game, which no one else seemed ot enjoy. I took four years and then went on to major in Spanish at Mundelein College in Chicago. I spent one semester at the University of Madrid in my senior year. I lived with a family from Cuba. before returning home, I traveled throughout Spain. I have the advantage that my sister’s husband is from Spain and his family lives there, and they have always welcomed me. After graduating from college, I taught high school Spanish in several schools, taking time off when my boys were born. I took school groups twice to Mexico and have gone back to Spain several times. I have always felt that going to the country is truly the only way to learn about the culture and history of it and its people. I also enjoyed taking my children there. I received my Bilingual and ESL certificates and taught in those fields, also. I retired from teaching in 2010. My husband and I first came to Sun City West in 2012, and I immediately joined Club Español. I found that I still loved teaching Spanish, but to people who really want to learn it. Teaching has helped me as much as I have helped my students. It is a way for me to maintain my knowledge of the language that I learned to love so long ago.
I was born and raised in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Madrid. I am the fourth of five children all born within a period of six years.
At the tender age of 19 I came to the U.S. on a summer-long visit to Seattle, where my sister and her husband lived. Little did I know that during that fabulous summer I would end up meeting the love of my life, John; we dated for as long as I could continue to renew my tourist/student visa, we then decided to go to Spain to get married and spend our honey moon in my home country
A couple of years after our return to Seattle John and I decided to join the Navy for the next 20 or so years, he as a sailor, me as a sailor’s wife. That’s how our big adventure begun! Together we traveled the world, we’ve lived in Hawaii, followed by San Francisco, San Diego, Spain, Italy, Washington DC, back to Spain, and Turkey. We finally picked Colorado for our final tour of duty, mostly because our two sons wanted to finish high school in the U.S.
We retired in 2010 and came down to Arizona to begin the second phase of our adventure. Because of my lack of teaching experience, I was at first skeptical about joining Club Español as an instructor, but as I got into it, I realized that I had found my “other true love”, teaching Spanish to my SCW friends and neighbors.
My class is available only by referral through the Education Committee.
I was born in Switzerland and brought up speaking the dialect of Berne. In first grade we learnt to speak and write “good” German and from fifth grade onward we had five French classes per week ending Highschool speaking fluently and writing almost without errors. I originally learnt Spanish when working at the U.N. in New York. After two years of studying the language with a Spanish teacher (from Spain) I passed the language proficiency exam and worked with Spanish documents in addition to English and French. Trips to Mexico, Guatemala and Peru reinforced my knowledge. In 1991, I emigrated to the Galapagos Islands (Ecuador) where only Spanish was spoken and spent 18 years on the island of Isabela running a hotel. My Spanish is now a fluent Latin American Spanish with a definite Ecuadorian influence.
Mary Ann Jasken
I am a retired language teacher. I spent my working years teaching language to refugees and immigrants and working as a consultant for the Minnesota State Department of Education. In that capacity, I taught language teaching methods for adults. I began learning Spanish at age 57, spending time in Mexico living among the people, learning their language and culture and discovering their beautiful villages and cities. I’m excited to bring those experiences to others interested in the Spanish language and culture. I began my adventure with Club Español as a student in 2010. I’ve been having fun teaching and working with our club curriculum since 2012.
Minú Parra Johnson
I was born and raised in a rural town in México. My parents, sisters and brothers contributed enormously to my happiness and education when I was a child. Because I was born in a small rural town, my parents decided to send me off to attend junior high in Cananea, Sonora, high school in Mexicali, Baja California and the university in Monterrey, Nuevo Léon, which gave me the opportunity to become a responsible and an independent person. I came to the United States to study English and surprisingly I met my husband. I have been married to him for 32 years and I have two wonderful sons.
I am very happy to be a member of Club Español and share my knowledge with whomever is interested in learning my culture and native language.
My life has been a series of events involving foreign language and international experience. Having immigrated from Baghdad, Iraq at age 3½, the first foreign language that I learned was English. My ethnic background and mother tongue are Chaldean–a modern-day dialect of Aramaic, an ancient Semitic language. I studied Latin in high school and Italian in college. In my junior year I was invited to spend the summer leading a group of 20 in a community development project in Tapachula, Chiapas, Mexico through a national outreach program known as Project Encounter. It had never been my plan to learn Spanish but I taught myself basic Spanish by following lessons on 10 phonograph records called Listen and Repeat. By the time I arrived in Mexico I had a working knowledge of Spanish and the ability to communicate. Three months later I was immersed in my love for all things Spanish and Mexico.
After graduation I lived for 13 months in Italy and the Middle East where I picked up some knowledge of Arabic. On my return to Detroit, I interviewed in Spanish with the department head of a parochial high school and was hired to teach Spanish I and II but had to obtain a teaching certificate, which I did at Wayne State University, advance placing in Spanish literature classes. In Spanish linguistics class I wrote and presented a 10-page paper in Spanish on the influence of Arabic in the development of Spanish during the Moorish occupation of Spain and the origin of Spanish words that begin with “al”.
After retirement from my career as a lawyer, I joined the Spanish Club and began teaching in 2014. My approach is to encourage students to listen to the language and develop the ability to understand and use it while also learning grammar. I believe that learning a foreign language is the key to appreciating people from other countries, along with their history and culture. Living in SCW and joining Club Español has led me to making new life-long friends not only in class but through our travels together to Spanish-speaking countries.
1967: BA in Economics and Russian with a Secondary Education Endorsement, U of Utah
1990-1991: Two year course in Translation, Literature, and History , Universidad Católica de Chile, 1990
1992: MA in Spanish Language and Literature, U of British Columbia
Teaching and Administration Experience:
1981-89: High School Spanish and Mathematics Instructor, Whitehall, Montana
1992-1996: Adult Basic Education and ESL Coordinator for Northeastern Nevada, Elko, Nevada. I taught and administered Workplace Literacy, GED and ESL Programs. Also taught University Spanish.
Between 1989 and now, we have lived over 10 years in Latin America where my husband has worked as a project manager for gold companies. Countries where we have lived include Chile, Venezuela, Honduras, and Argentina. While in Latin America, I worked as a translator for America Economía magazine, and translated environmental mining studies for consultants. I also taught ESL to Hispanics and tutored Spanish part-time for ex-pats.
A family trip to Mexico when I was seven years old began my fascination with the Spanish language and led to my becoming a Spanish teacher. For 21 years I taught high school Spanish in Normal, Illinois, and served as the Foreign Language Department Head and ESL Director. I enjoyed taking groups of my students to Spain and Mexico and hosting numerous exchange students in our home.
In 1989, I changed my focus to district administration (I called it “majoring in pay raise”) and spent the next 14 years as the district’s Director of Professional Development and Community Services. Upon retiring in 2003, I established my “Learning Connections” consulting business and secured multiple contracts for statewide work in educator development.
My husband Steve and I purchased a second home in SCW in 2009. Initially we were “Snowbirds” but each year we increased our time in Arizona and are now full-time residents. At the beginning of 2018, as I reached my 50-year anniversary as an educator, I brought my consulting business to a close. My very next decision was to reconnect with my love for Spanish – after a 28-year hiatus! By teaching and attending Spanish classes and serving on the club’s Education Committee I get to share my love of the language, improve my own skills and make wonderful new friends.
I earned my Master’s Degree in Spanish Language and Literature and taught all levels of high school Spanish. I became an Educational Consultant for the Holt, Rinehart and Winston Publishing Company where I helped with the publication of three Spanish textbooks. I traveled extensively throughout the Spanish-speaking world. I chaperoned 12 tours of Spain with some of my students. I also led 9 mission trips to Caborca, Mexico (Prescott’s Sister City). After 33 years of teaching, I retired and moved with my wife, Mildred, to Prescott in 1996. I taught a Spanish conversation class to senior citizens for 18 years. In April 2015 Mildred and I moved ot Sun City West and now we live at Grandview Terrace.
Don and I moved to SCW three years ago after I retired from the State of Nevada where I served as a Deputy Attorney General for the Department of Transportation. We raised our two children in Carson City, NV, where we enjoyed skiing near Lake Tahoe and hiking in the Sierra Nevada. My interest in Spanish began with learning the language in fifth grade and I continued taking classes, eventually earning my degree from Elmhurst College in Illinois. Studying at the University of Madrid was a highlight of my education, and I have returned to Spain several times. I am also a certified ESL (English as a Second Language) instructor. I have enjoyed helping Spanish speakers learn English and now I am pleased to have the opportunity to help other students learn Spanish.
All our teachers and assistants, past and present, are volunteers. We are grateful that they have given generously of their time to make our many classroom offerings possible.
Updated: April 26, 2021