Lake Norman & Mooresville

Language lessons appeal to senior

Dora Lamoureux, 77, along with a few other people, gathers around Abigayl Pansini's kitchen table every Thursday.

Pansini will ask Lamoureux basic questions like "How are you?" or "Where do you live?"

Lamoureux and the other students will eventually give the correct response. And then it's time for Pansini to ask another series of simple questions.

The questions are harder than you might think. Pansini is asking them in Spanish. And Lamoureux, a Statesville resident, is a student who is just beginning to learn a new language.

Originally from Peru, Pansini, 48, runs the Lake Norman Language Academy from her home just off of Plantation Ridge Drive in Mooresville that she shares with her husband, Michael, and two children Marcella, 12, and Anthony, 9.

Often her kitchen table and living room, serve as the Spanish classroom, and she offers the classes in an immersion setting where she speaks English only to clarify a question. It's surprising how much can be understood through intonation and gestures.

Pansini also teaches before- and after-school programs, including at Lake Norman Elementary. She estimatesshe currently teaches about 150 students.

Lamoureux started looking at Spanish classes after her husband of 59 years died in October. After her computer-based Spanish classes didn't work, she found Lake Norman Language Academy.

"I'm always up to learning something," said Lamoureux.

A mother of nine grown children, with numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Lamoureux learned French as a child and has always been fascinated by other languages.

She wanted to take Spanish because she thought her French background would make learning Spanish easier. It hasn't worked out that way.

"It (Spanish) keeps bumping into my French," she said.

Lamoureux has taken numerous courses at a variety of institutions nationwide.

"If you don't use it, you loose it. Mentally, it (learning) helps me to nourish my brain," said Lamoureux.

But Lamoureux isn't the only student.

Pansini said Lamoureux has taught her that "It doesn't matter how old you are, you can always have a young spirit and be optimistic and positive."

To which Lamoureux responded "¡Sí!"