The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Pasión for languages born early in NE instructor

Jaime Palmer does more than just teach Spanish. He encourages students to experience it.
“My passion for teaching is I love Spanish,” the NE instructor said. “I love traveling. It’s been part of me most of my life, and I want to share that passion with students.”
Palmer’s passion for the Spanish language began at an early age. His father was a farmer, and he grew up on a farm in Indiana. During the winters, his family traveled to Tampa, Fla., for two or three months to escape the harsh cold. It was in Florida that Palmer was first exposed to the Spanish language. His parents had many Cuban friends, and he started hearing it and speaking it from the age of 3.

“I loved it,” he said. “Something inside, it talked to me. It spoke to me.”

He became determined to learn the language. One day, he clipped some coupons out of the Fort Wayne, Ind., newspaper for some learn-a-language records. He bought all 10, which with coupons totaled around $3.

Every evening when he returned home from school, he would listen to the records over and over again before having to feed the livestock and do other chores. He tried to learn as much as he could before taking Spanish in high school.

After high school, Palmer went on a nine-week international farm youth exchange program to Spain. He stayed north of Madrid in Astudillo, a town in the province of Palencia.

“I loved it,” he said. “I loved every facet of their lifestyle. Everything.”

After that trip, he knew he had to go back. His senior year of college at Purdue, he returned to Spain with the university and ended up staying for two years. He finished his bachelor’s degree and started on a master’s program, which he eventually finished at Texas Christian University. He has lived in Texas ever since.

Over spring break, Palmer accompanied NE photo associate professor Patricia Richards to Spain for a photography program. The two met three years ago when Palmer first participated in the trip.

Richards said there was no lacking of humor on the trip with Palmer. He knows much of the history of Spain and acted as a translator on their trip, she said.

“At the Cueva de la Pileta, the archaeologist didn’t speak any English, and he [Palmer] was just fabulous,” she said. “He didn’t miss a word.”

He has also lived in Mexico, primarily in Cuernavaca, where he has taken students on Spanish-immersion trips at the Instituto Mexicano de Espanol y Cultura (Mexican Institute of Spanish and Culture) since the summer of 1993 despite the fact that TCC no longer sponsors the trip.

At the time, he had just completed his first year working full time for TCC. NE Spanish instructor Gilberto Hinojosa had been group leader for the Cuernavaca trip in previous years but had to back out eight days before the trip, so Palmer went instead.

“Since then, I’ve gone every year, either with TCC or on my own,” he said.

When he returns to the Mexican institute this summer, he will be teaching English to Mexican employees working in tourism-related fields such as hotels and restaurants.

NE student Jeremy Lantz first met Palmer when he took Spanish I in 2002. Lantz took some time off from school but took Palmer’s Spanish II class when he returned to TCC. Palmer is the same person in and out of the classroom, he said.

“I see him as one of the most jovial people, kind of a kid at heart,” he said. “You would never know what his real age is. You would assume that he was 18 or 20.”

Palmer’s classes reflect his passion for the Spanish language, Lantz said.

“They’re really easygoing, and they’re fun and interactive,” he said. “He’s just a really enthusiastic, interesting kind of guy.”

Palmer said he loves the culture, the folklore and the history of Mexico and the gusto for life of the people.

“The language is just a beautiful language, and so I like to share that with my students and help them to learn it and be enthusiastic and have a fun time at the same time in the classroom,” he said.

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