Young educator Trisia Abraham relishes challenge of teaching Spanish

Abraham graduated from the University of Guyana with a bachelor’s degree in education-Spanish in 2021

Over the decade, Guyana’s education system has welcomed several Spanish-speaking students, which has been attributed to migration from neighbouring Venezuela as well as Cuba. In recent years, that number of students has climbed to such heights that the authorities have decided to make the language compulsory in the school system.

As the situation evolves, at least one Spanish teacher is relishing the opportunity to teach the language to local students. In fact, “encouraging results” of students of the Santa Rosa Secondary School at the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) exams have given young school teacher Trisia Abraham a springboard to teach the language to the best of her ability.

Becoming a teacher

While growing up at Moruca, Abraham always admired her mother’s dedication to the teaching profession. So much so that she decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps while honing her own love for helping and sharing her knowledge with children.

Teacher Trisia Abraham and one of her students who performed well in Spanish at the CSEC exams

At the same time, Abraham, who heads the Department of Modern Language at her alma mater, the Santa Rosa Secondary School at Moruca, says she is prepared to expand her knowledge while teaching the foreign language to Guyanese students, and she credits late schoolteacher Bernadette Dindyall with inspiring her to teach the foreign language.

“I really enjoyed how she taught Spanish, and I have learned so much from her. I’m very much grateful for her help in becoming the Spanish teacher that I am today,” she said.
After finishing secondary school in 2014, Abraham started teaching at the Santa Rosa Secondary, and after one year, she went on to complete training at the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE).

After successfully completing studies at CPCE in 2017, she returned to her community and was appointed an Assistant Mistress. The ambitious Abraham then attended the University of Guyana, and in 2021, she graduated with a bachelor’s in education-Spanish. Her status as teacher changed once more, and in May this year, she applied for the post of HOD of Modern Language at Santa Rosa, and was successful in being so appointed.

Not an easy task

Abraham has said that teaching a foreign language to an English-speaking population can be challenging. “It’s not an easy task, but I use different teaching strategies to help them better understand the language being taught,” she said.


For example, she said, she undertakes a lot of oral practice activities with her students. She says she also gets them involved in specially-themed games while teaching them the culture of the Spanish-speaking countries. “And they must be able to understand the cultural aspects,” she said.

Abraham says she encourages her students to learn aspects of the language by heart.

“Even if I’m teaching a class of 30 students for one hour and each child learned two to three words in Spanish, I’m a very proud teacher; because it means that they have learned something, might not be much but they have learned,” she said.

Spanish language teacher Trisia Abraham sharing a light moment with her students at the Santa Rose Secondary School

The young teacher pointed out that one of the more challenging aspects of teaching the language lies in Spanish-speaking students who do not understand or speak English language.

“It’s very difficult for them, because they may not know. Most of them are accustomed to the creolese, I should say, so now the standard English will be something hard to get over to them, especially when they are writing and trying to interpret what the teacher is saying.”

She added, “As Spanish teachers, we may not find it hard to communicate with them, but it’s difficult for them to learn the other subjects in English language, like sciences, Mathematics, etc,”.

However, Abraham said, there are some fast learners, and one would find them learning the English language faster than others. “But for the slow learners, it’s very much challenging,” she said.

She said there is a small number of Venezuelan students at Santa Rose Secondary, some of whom are children of Guyanese parents, and she noted that they are adapting to the environment. As for the local student population, Abraham said she is seeing continuous improvement in their grades, and with the advent of technology as well as practice, she expects the grades to improve as time progresses.

At this year’s Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate (CSEC) exams, Santa Rosa Secondary obtained a pass rate of 66.7%. Of the 15 students who wrote the exams, 10 passed. Abraham said they were all Guyanese students. “I am very proud of them,” she said.

Spanish language teacher Trisia Abraham

As time progresses, Abraham said, there will definitely be a need for more Spanish teachers, and she noted that the very students may return to teach the language after completing secondary school.

Lighter side

Abraham hails from humble beginnings. She said she lives a quiet lifestyle, noting that in addition to teaching, she likes to listen to music and she likes dancing as well. “Anything to do with dancing I would participate,” she said with a smile.

She is currently assisting the CPCE with teaching young teachers at Moruca, and she noted that she also takes part in working along with the Parent Teachers Association (PTA) of her school.

With a broad smile, the ambitious Abraham, who is in her mid-20s, said she knows it will take time, but one day she hopes to become an education officer, one who would continue to make a major impact on the development of education in her homeland and wider Guyana.