English as a Second Language

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Danya Wahlberg

Danya Wahlberg




Education: M.A. in Hispanic Linguistics, UC Santa Barbara; B.A. in Spanish and in English, UC Santa Barbara; TESOL certificate, UC Santa Barbara Extension

As a child growing up in New Mexico, I was always fascinated by people who spoke another language. I promised myself I would learn Spanish and began to study it in high school. While still in high school, I began tutoring others in Spanish and discovered my love for helping others learn. I came to Santa Barbara to study at UCSB back in the 80s and double majored in English and Spanish. I realized that while I understood my professors in Spanish, I still needed to learn to speak more fluently and my own journey as a second language student continued. My part time job in college as an after-school program coordinator in Isla Vista introduced me to a number of families who spoke Spanish and needed help communicating in English. My time with those families helped me improve my Spanish as I helped them maneuver in an English speaking community.

Although throughout graduate school I tutored both English and Spanish, my first time actually teaching a class as an instructor of a second language course was as a graduate student in 1988 in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at UCSB where I taught Spanish levels 1- 5 for over six years. I also started teaching ESL part-time at UCSB Extension’s International Programs’ Intensive English Program in summer of 1989 and ended up teaching there for 19 years until the program closed in 2008. This opportunity provided me with experience designing curriculum, revising placement tests and creating new courses. I helped design a variety of courses ranging from the academic oriented: Academic Skills, Advanced Reading and Writing, Grammar and TOEFL to the general interest oriented: “Creative Writing through Photography” and English through Film. I also taught Spanish for Teachers in the CLAD program at UCSB Extension.

Since 2008, I have taught part-time as an adjunct instructor at Santa Barbara City College, teaching both ESL and English Skills. I’ve truly enjoyed the journey thus far. This range of experience has provided me with a greater awareness of students’ individual needs and how they fit into the curriculum.

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