American Culture Coach
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University of California at Berkeley, B.A. in English Literature
Cornell University, Master of Arts in English literature
Certification in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
I know English
With two degrees in English literature, I am a master of English grammar, American idioms, writing skills and all the quirks of American language and culture. I have taught English to speakers of other languages in the classroom and one-on-one. As the great-granddaughter of Mexican immigrants, I feel passionate about coaching people in American English and helping them feel like they belong in the United States.
I know the American workplace
My job history includes six industries. I have held corporate, academic, non-profit, child care, music and restaurant jobs, and I have learned that professionalism varies depending on the industry. I am a natural scholar of human interactions and relationship dynamics, both personal and professional, and am ready to share these social and professional skills with you.
I know loneliness
In 1993 at the age of 27, I moved Chicago, Illinois where I had no friends or family. It took several lonely years for me to figure out how to build friendships. Midwestern social habits weren’t quite the same as those in my native California or on the East Coast where I went to school, so it took some time for me to learn the right social cues. Eventually I learned how to respond appropriately and how to be a good friend, and in over two decades in Chicago, I have developed rich friendships and an active social life.
My parents had to learn English
I understand how emotional language is. My parents were born in Texas and only knew Spanish when they started school in the 1940s. Because their teachers forbade them from speaking Spanish in school, they learned English in the most traumatic way possible: under threat of punishment. When they had me and my sister, they taught us only English. I believe they had learned that English was the language of power, so they taught their children only the powerful language.
I had to learn Spanish
I was born in California and did fine in school, speaking English like any other American-born child. But by the mid-1970s, the cultural winds had shifted and it became an asset to know Spanish. Teachers taught us how to count to ten in Spanish and the Sesame Street TV show became bilingual. Knowing Spanish was now an important skill that I didn’t have, but everyone expected me to.
When my parents’ peers would discover that I only knew English, they would shake their heads reproachfully and say, “Why don’t you speak Spanish? You should know Spanish.” I learned to feel ashamed. Even after years of learning Spanish in high school and college, I knew if I spoke it, someone would hear my mistakes and know I was a failure. I knew all the Spanish grammar and vocabulary, but felt too ashamed to speak it. I wondered, “If all I can do is disappoint people when I speak Spanish, why should I ever speak it again?” But I feel much better about speaking Spanish now. It has taken me years to overcome my fears of speaking another language, but in the past 30 years I’ve learned some powerful tools that have helped me and I will share them with you.
I help you build confidence as well as learn practical skills. With a proven technique for releasing emotions, we will get those feelings of nervousness and intimidation out of the way. It might seem unlikely that you could ever feel comfortable in another language, but it is possible and I’ll help you do whatever it takes.
Welcome Dialogue exists because I’m passionate about communication, community and connection. I love to help people work through their fears at the same time that we increase vocabulary and explore American culture. I also love hosting dinner parties and holiday celebrations, so consider yourself permanently invited to my next event. Come over for a meal and let me introduce you to people who accept you just as you are and make you feel like you’re surrounded by friends.