This archived article was written by: Jessica Barton
Steve Nelson looks like a guy you would expect to see on one of those Spanish soap operas, driven into a coma by some sort of heartache. But he’s just your average guy. Granted, he does have his bachelor’s degree, which he earned at Utah State University, and his master’s degree in Spanish, which he earned at Portland State University where he also taught Spanish at the same time in both schools.
Nelson was born on October 6, 1969 and raised in Murray, Utah. Nelson grew up in a big family as the oldest of two brothers and three sisters. He learned Spanish on an LDS mission to Argentina and lived and breathed the language since then. After graduating from PSU in 2000, He utilized his leadership skills in selling mining equipment. After doing that for two years, he found a job he loved in becoming a trucker. He cruised down the highway listening to bluegrass and folk music.
But, he wanted to find a job where he could stay at home with the family he loves, his wife of 10 years, Amy, and his four children. They like to go on bike rides together. He has two boys, that are six and eight named Skylan and Aydri, and two girls, one and two, named Mandi and Isabelle.
He had fallen in love with teaching and began looking for a job at a school in Utah. Luckily, the College of Eastern Utah hired him. He would like to increase cultural awareness through higher Spanish enrollment. I actually am enrolled in his class and it is great. He has a teaching style that is very practical. He describes it as:
“My teaching methods are communicative and focus-on-form. Communicative means that students need to hear and speak the language in classroom activities that simulate real life interactions. Focus-on-form means that students can ultimately gain a higher level of linguistic competence in Spanish if they have some explicit grammar training. But you don’t acquire a foreign language by memorizing vocabulary and doing grammar exercises. The input and output of real life speech acts are essential. Understanding the grammar is just a catalyst that can make the in-class practice activities more effective.
“It is frankly very difficult to learn to speak beyond a basic level in a foreign language by just taking a language class. There are no quick shortcuts to learning a foreign language. Most people I know who have learned as adults to really communicate in a foreign language have had some form of language immersion. That is why I would like to implement a study abroad program for language students here at CEU. While not all students are able to spend a summer in Spain or Latin America, it is the best, most accelerated way I know of to learn true Spanish communication.
“I have developed an intermediate Spanish course specifically for the unique and varied needs of CEU students. This class is not just designed for students who have had one year of Spanish in high school or college, but also for those who have learned Spanish in the home or living abroad. We use award-winning short films from Spanish speaking countries as a starting point from which to explore culture, grammar and communication. I would encourage any student who has a basic understanding of Spanish and wants to improve speaking, reading or writing skills to take this class, even if they have not taken the first semester.”
Off campus, he loves to ski, both snow and water. He enjoys comedy and has a fun sense of humor. He played George Lopez for our class and broke out laughing. His favorite comedian is Jim Gaffigan. He plays La Bamba quite well on the guitar and also is talented on the piano. He enjoys reading and his favorite book is Slaughter House Five by Kurt Vonnegut. The best movie he said he has seen in a while is Cold Mountain.
So there you have it, the dirt on Steve Nelson, Spanish teacher extraordinaire. I love going to class and being greeted with his big smile and a cheery, “Buenos Dias!” Bienvenidos, Professor!