Pamela Bonse slips in and out of languages with ease, her words tumbling out as she talks about her passion.
“Even as a child, if someone was speaking a foreign language, I would trot off after them,” Bonse said. “I have always been fascinated with languages.”
Early on, Bonse turned her passion into her life’s work. For 20 years, she ran a language school in Texas, teaching Spanish, French and English to students ages 4 to 84.
When she moved to the Triangle in 2007, she accepted a position at Wake Technical Community College, where she taught Spanish until last year.
In August, she decided the time was right to open a language school in Apex.
The area’s diverse population supports the need for solid language instruction, Bonse said.
A grammarian who employs intense oral technique, she has worked with high school students studying for placement exams as well as people who travel internationally on business.
Sometimes a student simply wants to learn a new language.
Classes range from private to a small group based on similar goals and skills. The competency-based program requires a student to master grammar points before moving to the next level.
Although Bonse emphasizes speaking and listening skills, reading and writing are key components of her classes.
Bonse is confident in the high-energy teaching technique she has developed. A typical student has a weekly, one-hour class and leaves with enough homework to keep busy for the remainder of the week.
“For a diligent student, the process takes two years to fluency,” she said. “I am unique in what I do. I believe adults can become bilingual.”
Bonse said she enjoys teaching all ages in her classroom and will travel to the student, if needed. She customizes her program to meet individual needs.
“I teach terminology related to the person I’m working with,” she said.
One student was having trouble juggling his Spanish homework and his daily Bible study, so Bonse adjusted the program to include readings from a Spanish-language Bible.
Bonse also uses online interactive tools.
“I have the latest, greatest materials,” she said. “Students don’t realize how blessed they are to have interactive video that provides immediate results.”
She is investigating a way to continue instruction virtually for students who travel often.
“I don’t like to hold students back,” Bonse said. “I’m a coach and a cheerleader. I so believe the students are going to speak the language.”
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