Meet Our Staff

The teachers and staff at Speak Our Language have an unbridled passion for language and culture. Our energy, enthusiasm, encouragement, and sense of humor foster a learning environment where you not only enjoy being there, but you actually speak the language in the very first minutes of your very first class experience! 

Taught by professionally trained or state licensed teachers, SOL classes provide language instruction in grammatically correct global languages that go beyond basic phrases and vocabulary, providing you with the know-how to converse in unscripted situations. The benefit of having a trained teacher working with you face-to-face ensures that you're able to learn from your mistakes and grow your abilities with the guiding hand of a qualified, experienced, and patient linguist.

Tonya Tiggett


Home State/Country: Ohio

Title: CEO and Programs Director, Adult Spanish Class Teacher for all levels

Spanish Countries visited: Spain, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Guatemala

Favorite Word in Spanish:  Panqueques.  Pancakes! It always makes my students laugh and is just fun to say.

Tonya has worked for over 20 years in all levels of education from elementary up to corporate.  She earned her B.S. and M.A. from The Ohio State University where she majored in Spanish education and Spanish Peninsular Literature. Tonya taught hundreds of undergraduate students during her seven year tenure at OSU and also led their undergraduate study abroad program for Ohio State in Cuernavaca, Mexico.

It was while in Cuernavaca living and working for three months that she dreamed of a starting a school where students could be immersed in the language and also interact with the local Hispanic community. Thus, years later, Speak Our Language was born with just one class in a rented church space and 5 students.  Fast forward ten years later and SOL has earned an A+ rating with the BBB of Central Ohio and has helped hundreds of students learn the fine art of Spanish conversation, in addition to introducing them in person to Mexico and Guatemala through our study abroad trips.

"I love helping people find their voice in another language and to connect with people here and abroad.  It is so awesome to see how it truly changes their view of the world and the way they can now better interact with others in it."

Tonya was a NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners) Visionary Award finalist in 2011 for the visionary nature of SOL programs as well as the mentorship and coaching Tonya does within the Columbus community for women in business.  In 2013 she was asked to join the Fisher College of Business MBA program where she leads professional development courses on effective communication and leadership.  



Title: Adult Spanish Class Teacher (Advanced Level)

Surprising Fact: Carlos is a finanacial advisor and his guilt pleasure is sleeping.

Favorite Word in Spanish:  Gracias.  Gracias because it shows politeness and positivity. 

Home State/County: Mexico

Contagious laughter, amusement with the American culture and English language, and always smiling is what you should know about our Advanced level teacher Carlos.

Carlos has a tremendous (and we emphasize that word!) passion for his native language and for second language acquisition in general.  Carlos hails from Mexico and relocated recently to Ohio because of his wife’s buckeye state roots.  While pursuing his dream of becoming a university professor of Spanish, he will head up our advanced level classes, thus providing the native-speaking touch our students need at this level.

While residing in Mexico, Carlos successfully ran several small businesses, including a Spanish and English language school for international students wishing to acquire conversational command in either language.  His only challenge as a student of English prior to moving to the U.S. was the pronunciation of the word “fact,” which his English teacher made him practice over and over so his version of the word did not accidentally offend anyone!

Carlos shares the same passion and goals as Speak Our Language and wishes to share with the world the beauty and the advantage of learning Spanish.

Home State/Country:  Mexico

Title: Adult Spanish Class Teacher (Advanced Level)

Favorite Word in Spanish: Gracias because it shows politeness and positivity.

Surprising Fact:  Carlos is a financial advisor and his guilty pleasure is sleeping.




Home State/Country: Ohio

Title: Adult Spanish Class Teacher (Intermediate and Advanced Level)

Favorite word in Spanish: Sosiego (tranquility - not only does it mean tranquility, but also makes Eric feel tranquil!)

Guilty pleasure: None!

Spanish-speaking countries visited: 1 (Spain - and lived there for 4 years!)

Eric is the envy of all the staff at SOL because he has lived in Spain for 4 years!  He just returned to the states and would like to find a full-time Spanish teaching position.  Oddly enough, Eric wasn't all that interested in Spanish when he started studying, however it won him over soon thereafter.  Not only does Eric know Spanish, but he is also learning Portuguese.  He does think that learning languages "opens you up to a new way of thinking and experiencing life that you may have never considered."

When Eric isn't studying another language, he enjoys playing the guitar, singing and writing his own songs.  He would like to record an album of original songs one day!

Eric enjoys teaching for SOL because he likes "providing language education to adult learners in a practical, enjoyable and conversational way"  His advice to new learners?  "Make mistakes and don't be worried about embarassing yourself, because that is the only way to learn."  He should know!  His most embarassing story is having to ask a little abuelita (old lady) repeat herself several times during his very first conversation in Spain!  He also says, "Open yourself up to all experiences related with the language."


Jennifer Z.


Home State/Country: Ohio

Title: Adult Spanish Class Teacher (Beginner Level)

Surprising Fact: She grew up baling hay and learned how to drive with a John Deere farming tractor.

Countries visited:  3 (Spain, Mexico, Nicaragua and hopes to get to Puerto Rico soon)

Jennifer teaches our Beginner level.  She is energetic and loves to laugh, which means her students are always entertained! After teaching high school during the day, Jennifer really likes transitioning to her adult students in the evening with SOL because, "Adults see the benefit in the language usually, whereas I am still teaching those benefits to my younger students."  Jennifer has a passion for teaching Spanish becuase she has the ability to teach new and literally, foreign, ideas to her students.  "It is a fun and exciting adventure."

Jennifer's interest in Spanish goes back to high school where she enjoyed her classes and felt that she identified with the culture.  She would like to pursue her Master's Degree in Spanish Linguistics or Literature and hopes to add a few more Spanish country adventures, such as Puerto Rico and Argentina, to her repetoire. 

Jennifer and Annie must be on the same wavelength with their advice and favorite words in Spanish. Jennifer likes the sound of cuchichear, to whisper, and can use that when spilling some chisme (gossip) to Annie.  Like Annie's advice, Jennifer also suggests "Don't give up!" She also encourages her learners to "keep on trying and make mistakes!" 




Home State/Country: Ohio

Title: Adult Spanish Class Teacher (Beginner and Intermediate Level)

Favorite word in Spanish: Aguacero (downpour - also the name of a song by Ricky Martin & LaMari)

Guilty pleasure: Chocolate and reality TV

Spanish-speaking countries visited: 4 (Spain, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic)

When you talk about someone passionate about language, you must be thinking of our very own Lauren who first learned Spanish in high school and then ventured to live and work in Spain as a nanny so that she could live the language and culture. "I like to teach others the thing I love and have devoted my life to."

When Lauren in not leading the elementary Spanish programs for Dublin City Schools, she travels as much as possible and hopes someday to make it to Scandinavia. Exercise and spending time with friends and family also keep this former gymnast grounded (but watch out because she can do a back-flip) for the most part.

Lauren enjoys teaching for SOL because she likes "interacting with the adults who are lifelong learners."




Home State/Country: Ohio

Title: Adult Spanish Class Teacher (Beginner Level)

Favorite word in Spanish: Lagartijas (pushups)

Guilty pleasure: Reality TV

Don't mistake her for Sammi from the Jersey Shore reality show cast, as many of her students do; Lindsay is one class act, full of energy and passion for teaching Spanish. She is the newest addition to the Speak Our Language crew and was drawn to our company because of the immersion methodology we use, which she says "is the best way to learn."

"I like making a difference and seeing my students have fun while learning an essential language. I always learn something new too." She advises students studying a foreign language to not give up because we all make mistakes and don't know all the words in the English vocabulary either, even if you are a native-English speaker.

When not teaching adult Spanish classes for Speak Our Language, or for a local high school where she works full time, you will find this upbeat and enthusiastic young woman coaching cheerleading or sashaying to the beat of Zumba, which she also instructs.

Don't let her sunny personality fool you, Lindsay is one tough cookie. Many people would be surprised to know that she was a power lifter in high school and perhaps this is why she loves the word largatijas in Spanish. "I jokingly threaten my students with lagatijas in school!"

Packed with ambition, she is completing her M.A. in Spanish Literature by participating in a unique program that takes her every summer to countries such as Perú, Spain, and Guatemala, which also adds to her global knowledge of the diverse Spanish language and culture. This benefits her students in gaining a multi-cultural view of Spanish-speaking America and Europe.




Home State/Country: U.S.A

Title: Tutor (Advanced Level)

Surprising Fact: She owns over 100 cookbooks and uses them all.

Patty teaches our Advance level and like our other staff members- simply loves languages! She is also an amazing tutor and thoroughly enjoys working with individual instruction to ensure her clients grow and progress exactly as they envision it. Patty will leave no stone unturned in a student's language journey and has a true knack in working with middle school age children to fine tune their abilities and grades- all the way up to corporate big-wigs who must master the language for business purposes.

Patty brings an absolute wealth of teaching experience from ESL, translation, interpretation, visiting professorships and of course Spanish language instruction. Whew! We are impressed relaying all of this! You will always find Patty in a kitchen or garden when not teaching, or on a plane to visit one of her children.

Speak Our Language students greatly benefit from Patty's command of the Spanish language and culture, honed as a result of living in Spain and Costa Rica for years, and being married to a native-speaker from Cuba.




Home State/Country: Ohio

Title: Adult Spanish Class Teacher

Spanish Countries visited: Spain, Mexico, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Puerto Rico

Favorite Word in Spanish:  Toalla.  Towel - there's just something about how this word rolls off your tongue!

Shelly has had 4 years of university-level teaching - 1 with Spanish and 3 with Political Science.  When Shelly isn't teaching, Shelly enjoys being active with running, hiking and dancing!  Her current goal is to run a 10k!

Shelly learned Spanish as a child and, then, more formally in high school and college.  She loves the language and was pretty much hooked when she was 16.  Her first study abroad experience to Spain sealed the deal and there has been no turning back!  Just like most Spanish learners, Shelly mistakenly used embarazada to say embarassed, when it really means pregnant! 

"(It) would be an amazing opportunity to teach a language I adore to adults who are eager to learn it.  What could be better?!"

Some words of advice from Shelly: "Relax and have fun.  Learning a foreign language may not be the easiest thing ever, but you're probably doing much better than you think you are."  Seems like Shelly is on the same page with the rest of our teachers!



If you are interested in joining our SOL teaching staff, click here for more information!

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