Dr Ana Maria Ducasse
Senior lecturer in Spanish Studies at La Trobe
Dr Ana Maria Ducasse
Dr Ana Maria Ducasse began her working life as a language teacher, and still has obvious enthusiasm for both language education and research. Since joining La Trobe’s Spanish Studies team, she has been recognised with awards for excellence in teaching in both 2008 and 2009, and shared another Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching with her Spanish teaching colleagues in 2011.
To make sure her Spanish classes are engaging, Ana Maria puts herself in her students’ position, asking ‘Would I like to be in this class?’ She regularly updates classroom and assessment activities, incorporating tasks as diverse as writing film dialogue and rewriting fairytales alongside more traditional activities.
Part of the reason for this creative approach is the understanding that La Trobe students can study languages alongside any degree through the university’s Diploma in Languages. With this in mind, Ana Maria works to ensure her Spanish classes appeal to a wide variety of students.
La Trobe’s Spanish classes are run entirely in Spanish from day one. While this may sound challenging, Ana Maria notes that her students have been motivated enough to start up their own Spanish Club, and points out that this immersive approach means that advanced students are able to take the highest level of the internationally recognised D.E.L.E language exam in their third year of study, or participate in intensive teacher training programs.
Ana Maria also encourages her students to take advantage of the short and long term international exchange opportunities offered through the La Trobe Spanish Program. She says it’s through these experiences that students gain the most in terms of language skill and cultural understanding.
In addition to exchange, La Trobe also offers a popular teaching English in Spain program supported by the Spanish Ministry of Education, which is available to students regardless of whether they have studied Spanish or not. To practice Spanish further, the Universidad Espiritu Santo' Ecuador also offers our students internship and volunteering opportunities.