German professor Regina Braker '78 named regional council language teacher of the year
By Michelle Warmuth, Editorial Assistant
Regina Braker '78, learned to speak and write in German at a very early age. In fact, Braker's parents, who emigrated from Germany in 1953, insisted all five children in the household have a command of the language. Now, as associate professor of German at Eastern Oregon University, Braker does the insisting and does it very well. She was named post-secondary language teacher of the year by the Pacific Northwest Council on Foreign Languages at its annual conference last April in Tacoma. The PNCFL covers Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Utah.
Regina Braker '78
"I was really excited about the award, but the more exciting thing was the presentation I gave at the conference. There was such a nice, positive response when I spoke about the different things I was doing in the classroom," Braker said. "I guess that's what the teaching award is all about."
Braker, who earned a B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. in German, developed an experimental class that brought learning the language to another level. One part of the class was a hands-on project in which students wrote German interpretations for displays at the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Baker City and the Tamastslikt Cultural Institute in Pendleton. "German tourists are really fascinated with the American culture. It was a nice opportunity for my students to see that there are local connections."
At EOU since 1995, Braker is the university's German program, teaching German at all levels.
"I provide a lot of opportunity for students not only to study and analyze German, but to put the language to use by having them actually talk to each other in group and pair exercises," Braker said. "To receive a minor in German [the highest level offered at EOU], students must demonstrate a particular level of oral proficiency, so we push them to get comfortable talking."
Braker also learned to speak some Italian when she and her husband, John McCallum, lived for eight years in Switzerland, where she taught German at a small American college. "In trying to speak Italian, I found myself in the same situation as my first-year students," she said with a laugh.