In the basement of the Children's Museum of Northern Nevada, Terese Martinez creates a Spanish island for her young students. She immerses them in the language, using music, games and puppets.
She has a waiting list to get into her next two classes, for those aged 4-6 and 6-9.
"Spanish is in demand," Martinez said. "There are 300 million Spanish speakers in the world and about 21 countries that speak it. Spanish broadens (children's) world view and gives them a multicultural view of life."
Martinez's profession started out of necessity more than the need for a new job.
"When my kids go down to visit their grandparents, they have to speak it," she said.
Martinez discovered while teaching Spanish to her children that she enjoyed the creative energy it took and the flexible schedule. She started classes at the Children's Museum in January. The classes cost $200 for five months. Martinez recently expanded her business to private tutoring, a business she named "Spanishland."
When it comes to Spanish, Martinez calls herself "book smart." She was fluent by 20, after spending a year on college exchange in Seville, Spain. Her bachelor's degree is in cross-cultural studies.
Her husband, Frank, a native Mexican, knows how the words are said out in the real-world Spanish dialects, not just the classroom. He corrected her on the proper use of camioneta (pickup) during one of their recent classes. That sent her to the Spanish dictionary for confirmation.
Martinez, 32, believes this makes them the perfect team. They met at high school in Zephyr Cove, but started dating after she returned from college.
Frank Martinez helped her get a job at Harveys casino, where he still works. They were married about 13 months later.
Martinez co-teaches two classes a week, one with her friend Cindi Randall and the other with her husband. Their second session starts in the fall.
Martinez said she uses immersion, visual tools, role-playing and games so that children retain the information. Although TV program "Dora the Explorer" is popular with kids, it teaches them few real Spanish words.
"They are getting it. They are saying it, which is why parents keep bringing their kids back."
For information, call Martinez at 885-2110 or 230-3288.
• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at email@example.com or 881-1212.