Romina Mancilla
Director of SF Spanish

I was born in Quilmes, a province of Buenos Aires, and have been living in San Francisco for over a decade. My work and personal travel have taken me to many Spanish-speaking countries over the years, but Mexico has always been a major draw for me. Each time I visit, I like it more than before.

I love teaching my native language because it allows me to use my creativity, to share my knowledge of the language and culture, and to meet new people.  I enjoy sharing my travel experiences, daily life, and interests outside of teaching. I have been taking dance classes for years now, and dance is one topic that comes up frequently in class conversations since quite a few of my students also dance.
For me, the key to learning Spanish is to use it and speak it regularly.  When I arrived to the US, I began to study English and found that using it in a variety of formats was the most effective way for me to retain the language. I have also studied other languages over the years and I discovered that memorizing vocabulary and doing workbook exercises was not the best way to learn. Seeing this, I began to make an effort to use the language more by putting new words and concepts directly to use in conversation.
When I started SF Spanish, I intentionally created a learning environment based on conversation. The "Spanish only" policy encourages students to think and speak -- and excel -- in their new language.  For this reason, I also created the interactive SF Spanish website for students to use outside of the classroom. Here, they can interact with other students and continue to write, read, and listen to the Spanish language.

 Vanina Gaviraghi
 SF Spanish Teacher

I am originally from a small town in Argentina called Santa Fe. For the last year, I’ve been teaching private and group classes at SF Spanish for both adults and children.

Teaching has always been my passion. In Argentina, I graduated as a lead teacher and worked for many years with kids, ranging from six to eleven years old. When I arrived to the United States, I worked as a child caregiver and taught Spanish to younger children.

My love for Spanish language led me to expand my horizons and teach adults. Teaching adults is something I find very fascinating, and I enjoy every second of it. In a usual class, I balance conversation with grammar, complementing my teaching with visual aids, games, stories, and videos.

In a children’s class, my students enjoy songs, poems, stories, games, dancing, videos, and projects. I adjust the activities depending on the level and age of the children in my class.


Carmen Gomez de la Cuesta
SF Spanish Teacher

I am from Spain, and I have more than 15 years of experience as a professional in the Communication and Literature fields as well as in teaching Spanish.

I’m constantly searching for different approaches to teaching my mother tongue. My other passions are traveling, books, and good wine. My main goal is to continuously build my understanding of the wide network of Spanish cultures and expressions throughout the world. I’m thrilled to be able to share this amazing journey with the students of SF Spanish!

Laura Isabel Marquez Orta
SF Spanish Teacher

I’m Laura, and I’m from Venezuela. I used to teach at the University there, and I am happiest when sharing my knowledge of Spanish language and culture.

I came from beautiful Venezuela to San Francisco at the beginning of 2016. I believe this city is the perfect place to be free and meet people from everywhere. 

In 2015, I spent a few month in Paris, where I had the opportunity to learn French. This is now added to my list of languages I know, including English and Spanish. I enjoy spending time with friends, reading, and watching movies. I also love fashion, traveling, and the beach. I have been to Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Austria, Spain, France, England, and Germany. I think that traveling is the best way to learn about people, languages, and cultures.

When I teach Spanish I'm pretty relaxed, enthusiastic, and patient. One of the reasons that I enjoy teaching Spanish is because it gives me a way to share my culture, spreading awareness of the Venezualan way of life.

Claudia Santana
SF Spanish Teacher

I was born and raised on the Canary Islands (part of Spain), where I spent most of the time playing basketball. Then I studied Pedagogy at the University of Salamanca, west of Madrid. While in college, I met people from different parts of the world and became obsessed with learning English and traveling to learn about different cultures. I lived in Italy and England. Then I went further and moved to California, where I have also been teaching, both children and adults.

I’ve been living in the Bay Area for almost three years. Teaching is my main passion, and I love finding new ways to help people learn. I’m very excited to work at SF Spanish and to help other people meet their language goals!

Judith Garcia San Martin
SF Spanish Teacher

I am originally from a beautiful small city in Spain called Palencia. Traveling and living internationally has provided me opportunities to learn different languages and cultures and meet fantastic people along the way. I am passionate about sharing my native language and culture with others, and at the same time I love finding out and sharing the many different cultures found in all Spanish speaking countries.

I studied Translation and Interpreting at the University of Granada in Spain. My motivation for these studies stemmed from a deep desire to help people understand each other despite linguistic and cultural barriers. In the courses I teach, I emphasize how culture and language are closely related and how one is needed to understand the other. I have lived in France, the UK, and Germany, where I’ve taught Spanish to both children and adults.

In my classes, I give great importance to communication skills, which implies a lot of conversation and speaking about different topics. This is done without forgetting to practice other skills, but I always come from a communicative approach. I look for novel ways to transmit language using diverse materials and teaching aids.

My favorite activities include traveling and discovering new things. I am always hunting for new destinations! I also enjoy spending time with family and friends, watching movies and shorts from around the world, reading books, and playing sports (especially tennis, Zumba, and biking). I have just moved to the Bay Area and look forward to meeting you at SF Spanish!

Andrea Chavez
SF Spanish Teacher

I was born and raised in Mexico City, one of the biggest cities in the world! I moved to San Francisco three years ago and during my time here, I’ve experienced how empowering a second language can be and how helpful it can be for achieving personal and professional goals. This is part of why I’m so passionate about languages.

Languages are the best way to expand our horizons, learn from other cultures, connect with them and also help others who do not have the privilege of traveling or learning languages other than their mother tongue. For me, empathy, connection and knowing how to adapt to each student’s needs and strengths are crucial for optimizing learning and having fun during our time together. Breaking free from conventional ways of teaching and learning is what makes teaching at SF Spanish so enjoyable!

Since I’ve been in San Francisco I’ve taught Spanish to psychotherapists and entrepreneurs, among others, for them to be able to speak with confidence when working with Spanish speaking clients, open their practice to a larger audience, or simply have the knowledge to be able to give basic information and referrals for people seeking help. Some of my hobbies include dancing, fitness, nutrition, nature and traveling!

Salvador Martinez

SF Spanish Teacher

My name is Salvador Martinez, I am from Veracruz, Mexico where I was born and raised. I studied business administration but in 2014 I decided to switch gears and focus on education. Since then I have been teaching both adults and children.

I specialize in math, computer science and of course Spanish! I am very passionate about being an educator and helping people meet their learning goals. In my free time I enjoy traveling and getting to experience the culture, food and customs of other countries. This is why I enjoy the multicultural and inclusive atmosphere of San Francisco!

Ditter Alexis

SF Spanish Teacher

I was Born in Mexico City where I lived for 31 years before getting the opportunity to move to San Francisco. I am an accountant and I have over 10 years of experience working for financial companies. This has provided me with tons of experience training and teaching in different areas which has helped me discover different approaches to share my knowledge of the Spanish language.

Even in high school I was part of a tutoring program to help my peers understand material and improve their grades so teaching is a big part of who I am. I have also spent time working with various communities in the Mexican countryside helping people to read and write Spanish. Now that I’m part of the SF Spanish team.

I am very excited to be able to share with students my vast knowledge of the Spanish language and vibrant Mexican culture!


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