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Superheld des Monats – Jesús Pineda Von


This marathon-running, merengue-dancing, karaoke-singing aficionado is in fact a doctoral candidate.

On challenging stereotypes through humour

He sounds Spanish, but isn't. He looks Mexican but isn't. Jesús Pineda is in fact from the Venezuelan capital, Caracas and brings his sense of adventure (and humour) to his teaching at NATIVES. "I have heard all kinds of reactions when I say where I am from: There are some who have no idea where Venezuela is located and ask. Then there are others who have no idea but try to guess and say something like "oh Mexico" and there are others who immediately mention some historical facts to show me that they read the newspaper. I also sometimes say that I am from Hann. Münden and enjoy the different looks on their faces", says Jesús.

Spontaneity and the investment of time

Jesús, a PhD candidate in social sciences, notes the phenomenon many language trainers experience when they start teaching foreign students their mother tongue: (re)learning their own language. "Apart from teaching Spanish I have actually learned Spanish at NATIVES because I needed to understand the rules to be able to explain them to non-native speakers, oder?" Jesús views language transfer as more than just a cultural interchange – it is a means to impart linguistic authenticity. For him, it is about teaching students ways to express ideas and use phrases in the hope of helping them speak and sound better.

Testament to Jesús's teaching style, he believes spontaneity and a sense of fun in language training is essential in responding to the different needs and desires of each class. Seeing students go from absolute beginner and after one 1 year be able to have conversations with that student about daily life, his/her past and future is very rewarding. "It is not something that you can experience in one day or at a specific moment, instead it is the sum of a lot of effort and time that you have invested in something."

To do or not to do

As one of the native Spanish speakers on the NATIVES team, he is honest about the reality of living and working in an international, multicultural environment with a new set of social mores and never-ending cultural niceties. "You have to think a lot about what you can or should do or say. Whereas in your own country you would probably be considered to be normal most of the time." Like other expats, he articulates how difficult it is to feel like you can speak any language properly "which can make you feel disadvantaged sometimes."

Inspired by his love of opera, he took a recent trip to Italy. It was here that Jesus ordered a latte macchiato after lunch, much to the horror of the waiter who believed he was still hungry, since in Italy, custom has it not drink a latte macchiato after a meal, unless you wish to suggest you are still rather hungry.

When he is not working on his PhD or his latin dance moves, Jesús is preparing for his next marathon, and perfecting his karaoke voice. He is currently reading 'Focus', the new bestseller by Daniel Goleman.

This article was written by guest author, Petra Zlatevska.

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