Bio of Tom Webber, M.A., Language Teacher
One afternoon when I was 10 years old I found an old Spanish textbook with a faded cover that my Grandma had used in her Indiana high school days. After thumbing through a few dusty pages, and marveling at the mystery to be solved, I became fascinated with foreign languages for the rest of my life.
In junior high and high school I signed up for Spanish classes, then travelled to Mexico City to study more before starting college. I majored in Spanish and Italian at Stanford, with six months overseas study in Florence, Italy. At the University of California, Berkeley, I finished my B.A. in Spanish, then went for a Master’s Degree at the intensive language training school Middlebury College, in Vermont and Spain (Madrid).
Back in California, I took a year of education courses and began teaching in public schools. I still have lifetime teaching credentials for foreign languages at high school, community college and adult school.
After a few years, unhappy with the bureaucracy and tired of babysitting unruly teenagers, I finally quit the public school system and started an import-export clothing business working in Mexico and the U.S., putting my foreign language skills to work in the real world.
Later I published articles on language and culture in trade and travel magazines, while managing language schools for adults in California and Mexico. We developed a method using books, tapes, and on-site classes to teach Spanish to busy American engineers and executives who worked in Mexico for Fortune 500 companies, including Colgate-Palmolive, Kodak, Schlage Locks, and Mattel Toys.
Up until 2005 my experience with Portuguese was limited to a year in college, a few bossa nova records, and a four-day stay in Lisbon. Hungry for a new challenge, I decided to learn the language of Brazil so I could travel to one of the most interesting countries in the world.
I studied hard every day, but didn’t mind it, because I concentrated on doing only easy, enjoyable things, like watching Brazilian films on DVD, as well as listening to music and language tapes in my car. When I finally stepped off the plane in Brazil I had a great head start. That’s when the real learning started, and will continue for the rest of my life!
I hope I can help you reach that magical point, too. You can do it the way I did, with slight variations, or make up your own plan. Whatever method you choose, you won’t regret the time and effort you invest in learning Portuguese, and opening up a completely new, fascinating world for yourself.