From France to the Falcons, Ms. Barker Shares Her Love of Language


Megan Snyder

By incorporating lessons on French history and culture in addition to teaching the language itself, French teacher Ms. Amanda Barker aims to get students to understand “how powerful language is,” she said.

Megan Snyder, Editor in Chief

La Salle welcomed several new members to the community at the start of this school year. This story is one of a series of profiles highlighting these people.

From growing up in the midwest to living abroad, French teacher Ms. Amanda Barker chose to bring her love for teaching to La Salle this year, marking her seventh year of teaching the language. 

While she was growing up in Nebraska, becoming a teacher wasn’t Ms. Barker’s original plan — she simply fell in love with France. “I just decided I wanted to do something where I could speak French every day,” she said. 

Her first introduction to the country was when she took a trip there in high school. Later on, this experience inspired her to study abroad in Paris while pursuing a major in French education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 

Ms. Barker was especially drawn to the cultural activities in France: museums, food, and, in particular, the social environment of the country. “People just really like spending time with each other in France,” she said. 

While studying abroad, Ms. Barker was an English Assistant, meaning she worked at a French high school and helped students practice their English by speaking with her. “I was kind of their native speaker experience [for] English and American culture,” she said. 

Despite not being immediately drawn to teaching, “It kind of happened in steps for me,” she said, as both her experiences abroad and the education classes she took for her major allowed Ms. Barker to realize her newfound love for working with students. 

Ms. Barker’s previous French teaching job was at another private Catholic school called Pius X High School in Lincoln, Nebraska. Due to its much larger size of around 1,300 students, “my other school was just in a very different culture,” she said. 

As a result, one of the aspects of La Salle that Ms. Barker was pleasantly surprised by when switching jobs was the school’s tightly knit community. Not only does she appreciate the support from her fellow coworkers, Ms. Barker also likes that she can easily build connections with students — even those not in her French classes. 

“[La Salle is] smaller than my previous school by half, so I feel like that gives me the opportunity to get to know a lot more people because there’s less people,” she said. “I can have more time with each person that I’m meeting.”

Another thing that Ms. Barker has appreciated about La Salle so far is the school’s emphasis on inclusion, and she hopes to further that environment within her classroom by making all of her students feel welcome. “I want all kinds of students to be comfortable being in my room and to be sharing who they are,” she said. 

In class — though she loves to teach her students about Paris — one of Ms. Barker’s favorite aspects of her curriculum is medieval France. She also enjoys reading books with her students in Honors French 3 and 4. 

“My goal always is to get my students to realize the importance of continuing in a language even if they decide to go on to something that’s not French,” she said. “Just so that they get excited about learning languages.”