Residents At Heritage Pointe Of Teaneck Expand Foreign Language Skills In Weekly Spanish Class

Top Quote Lifelong Learners Study Spanish Reading, Writing and Conversation with Instructor Hector Rivas. End Quote
  • Bergen-Passaic, NJ (1888PressRelease) September 14, 2010 - Hector Rivas, a dining room server at Heritage Pointe of Teaneck, is using his skills as a native Spanish speaker to teach the language to residents at the full-service rental retirement community. Every Friday, a group of lifelong learners gather for weekly Spanish lessons with Rivas, who started teaching the class last year after his predecessor left.

    Rivas, a native of El Salvador, came to the United States 15 years ago and has been working at Heritage Pointe for more than three years. He says he loves teaching the one-hour class and comes prepared every week with handouts from a large workbook and Spanish-language newspapers for his senior students to read.

    "The class is mostly conversational, so I focus on getting the participants to read modern Spanish, and I encourage them to try speaking it as much as possible," said Rivas. "They take turns reading items aloud from the newspaper and the workbook, and we review common vocabulary words." During a recent class, the students, all residents of Heritage Pointe, took turns reading a story and doing vocabulary exercises. Resident Evelyn Goodgal came prepared with the prior week's newspaper marked with red ink, showing new vocabulary words that she had looked up in the dictionary. "I'm a former French teacher and love learning foreign languages," said Goodgal, "but I'm also here because I love Hector."

    Goodgal, who joined the class this past spring, noted that the participants have a good time in class and help each other with learning new words and phrases. Harold Shapiro and Fred Tampol have been studying Spanish at Heritage Pointe much longer-four years and two years respectively-and noted in addition to the support his fellow students give each other, Rivas is an excellent teacher. "We enjoy the camaraderie and learn by helping each other find the answers, but Hector encourages and coaches us all so nicely," said Shapiro. The men cited that learning to speak Spanish as well as to read and write it is important to them and that their skills were improving under Rivas' tutelage.

    One of the newest students to join the class is Harriett Messinger, who came to Heritage Pointe this summer. Her career in health care had provided Messinger with a lot of contact with patients from around the world, so she learned a smattering of many languages over the years, including some Russian and Arabic. Now she is adding Spanish to her knowledge bank. "I'm enjoying all the activities here and wanted to try something new. I love language and study it whenever I can, so this is perfect," she explained.

    Rivas noted that any resident may join the class at any time, at his or her own level. For example, Lee Meyer joined the class this summer as a beginner, with the goal of one day being able to understand Spanish-language television. "I grew up speaking German, which is so different from Spanish. But I'm willing to give it a try, and Hector is very patient," she said.

    Heritage Pointe of Teaneck is located at 600 Frank W. Burr Boulevard, off Interstates 80 and 95 and near Route 4, adjacent to the 46-acre Teaneck Creek Conservancy. The Spanish class is just one of many educational, cultural and social activities and programs offered by the elegant rental retirement community, which offers spacious apartments, fine dining, and distinctive amenities for active retirees. For more information call (201) 836-9260 or visit

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