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The Spanish Horizons, Inc. team is comprised of professionals dedicated to Spanish language and cultural training. To learn more about the diverse backgrounds of the staff, click on a name to check out their bio below.

Founder and Director

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Liliana Cortez

Instructors and Staff


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Ada Handlery



República Dominicana


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Liliana Cortez, Founder - Perú

Founding Spanish Horizons, Inc., was a natural progression for Liliana Cortez, who views her life's work as fulfilling a growing need for Spanish language and cultural education. Liliana's core philosophy and the school's service mark - "Expande tus horizontes," expresses the essence of the school's purpose, which is to help expand student's horizons by opening up their world through a greater understanding of Latin language and culture.

A native of Lima, Perú, Liliana and her family, native Spanish-speakers, lived in several different Central and South American countries, including Panama and Ecuador. She attended American schools (grades K-12) as a child, where she became fluent in English, and she started translating documents for her father - a journalist - at the age of 12. This thorough training in English-to-Spanish and Spanish-to-English translation, interpretation, and conversation enabled Liliana to pass her college-level Spanish competency exam while still just in high school.

Liliana won a full scholarship to Clark University, in Worcester, Massachusetts, where she formally began her teaching career by working as a teaching assistant for Spanish Literature and Language courses throughout college, where she studied French and conversational Japanese. She also spent a year abroad at the London School of Economics. She was a Minority Liaison and President of the Latin American Student Organization (LASO), a collegiate organization with the mission to promote Latin culture.

In her adopted home of Chicago, Liliana not only seeks to contribute to greater International understanding, but also local understanding here in Chicago, with its large native Spanish-speaking population. Liliana sees it as her mission to teach Spanish to students of every age and to contribute to cross-cultural communications through translation and interpretation work. Another natural fit for the school - teaching English to native Spanish speakers.

Initially, Spanish Horizons, Inc., opened as the Spanish Center in 1996, and the name was changed when the school was incorporated in August of 2001. Liliana has hands-on experience in education working as a bilingual teacher and curriculum coordinator during eight years for the Chicago Public Schools.

Outside of work, Liliana enjoys dancing salsa, going to the movies, exercising, photography, reading and traveling.

She firmly believes - every student can learn!



Arturo Arabitg - Cuba

Arturo is a full-time Instructor at Spanish Horizons, Inc. Once he began teaching as part-time instructor while still studying for his B.A., he knew that teaching was a natural fit. His goal as a teacher is to help students practice and master the essential skills needed to communicate in Spanish or English, so that students can begin to actually think in the targeted language. His instructional focus is on creating an enjoyable learning environment that encourages learning through interaction. He also includes culture, tradition, and current events to enrich the learning process. He also contributes in the area of legal and medical interpreting and translation, especially in the area of Spanish literature, recently completing Spanish to English translation related to work by Jorge Luis Borges.

Arturo was born in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, and moved to Miami, Florida when he was three years old. He received his degree in Drama at Miami Community College and in Continental Philosophy at Florida International University. He moved to Chicago in 1991, after he fell in love with the city during a visit, and has been teaching Spanish in the Chicago area for nearly four years, with ten years of teaching experience overall. He also performs locally as a musician, especially in the Afro-Cuban folk music genre and works as a Medical Interpreter for hospitals.

Nancy Arrieta - Colombia

Nancy is originally from Colombia. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish from Northeastern Illinois University, and has an Associate Degree in Accounting and in Business Administration from Saint Augustine College.

Nancy’s experience in the field of Education includes teaching Spanish since 2004 to children of all ages in the before and after school Spanish Programs at different schools in the city and suburbs, such as Oakton Community College,  Pleasant Ridge School at District 34, Romona and Central Schools, King Lab, and Walker School. In her teaching she brings nurturing energy to the classes, and her relationship with students is one of caring and professionalism.

Nancy provides to her students a learning experience that incorporates a variety of activities while laying a strong foundation for future language learning. She has a real gift for teaching her native Spanish language, and genuinely derives joy from seeing her students’ progress.

Nancy’s calm and patient nature provides a safe environment that fosters learning. She is an asset to Spanish Horizons’ Children Spanish Programs. Nancy enjoys being a Spanish Horizons team member because she is enabled to try and implement new techniques to continue to improve her effectiveness in the classroom.

Outside of work Nancy likes to spend time with her family, friends, and volunteering in her church.


Mercedes Mercedes Barajas - México

Mercedes is from Zacatecas, Mexico and she has a Degree in Broadcasting. Her previous experience working as a journalist, news reporter and bank administrator make her a great asset to the Spanish Horizons’ Customer Service Team. Her ample skills in Public Relations and Communications help her provide outstanding attention to clients, students, staff members and all others by fostering teamwork and a professional, welcoming environment in person and over the phone.

She enjoys working at Spanish Horizons because it gives her the opportunity to embrace and share her native Spanish language, and her love for Mexico and Latin Culture. Her enthusiasm and positive thinking is refreshing and contagious, brightening the day of everyone around her. Outside of work, Mercedes enjoys spending time with her two children and husband. She also likes cooking, going to the movies, shopping, reading, and preparing her favorite recipes to share with her coworkers.



Guatemala's Flag Marco A. Díaz - Guatemala

Marco was born and grew up in Guatemala. He also lived in Mexico while completing his college studies. He received his Mechanical Engineer degree from the Monterrey's Institute of Technology and Higher Education (Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, ITESM), one of the best and largest private universities in Mexico. Marco enjoys teaching Spanish because it is a challenge to break down the language to be able to explain it in simple terms. He teaches adults and youths, and also specializes in Medical Spanish. Marco is one of the teachers hosting "El Club de Español" on Saturdays and enjoys the experience of making students practice Spanish while having fun. Marco aspires to become a writer, and he is an avid reader. Among his favorite authors are Dostoyevsky, Sartre, Borges and Chomsky.



US Julissa Flores - E.U.A./México

Julissa is a great asset to Spanish Horizons' Customer Service team. She earned hes Bachelor's Degree in Sociology from Northeastern IllinoisUniversity with a specialization in Women's Studies and Art. Julissa firmly believes that it is important to learn Spanish because Hispanics and Latin American people conforms the biggest minority group in this country, and their influence in the economy, industries and advertising is very significant. Julissa focuses on providing excellent factual-based attention to our students and clients. Outside of work she enjoys creating works of art.



Ada Handlery Ada Handlery - Perú

Ada is Peruvian. She earned her Law Degree from the National University of Piura (Universidad Nacional de Piura) in Perú. Her enthusiasm about the Spanish language is contagious. She believes that speaking Spanish is important because it empowers you to communicate with millinos of people all around the world, and opens the window of opportunity of the professional, economical and cultural fields. Ada is an organized and persistent teacher who likes to emphasize the grammar and vocabulary elements of the language in her classes. Her teaching philosophy is "Practice is the Key". Ada teaches children and adults. Outside of work, she enjoys learning other languages and reading, specially fiction books. She also speaks Portuguese.



Mercedes Raquel López - México

Raquel López is originally from Toluca, Mexico. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Instituto Universitario Franco Inglés de México. Raquel greatly enjoys teaching Spanish to students of all ages, particularly children. She is a valuable member of our staff at our Before and After School Language Programs.

For her, teaching Spanish is an excellent opportunity to convey not only a language but a whole culture, through readings, songs, didactic games and endless exercises that in one way or another, lead to distictive characteristics of an entire tradition.

Raquel believes that learning Spanish is important because the more knowledge and abilities a person possess, the better his or her capacity of personal and professional growing in different environments. In addition, Spanish is one of the most spoken languages worldwide.

She considers herself as a dynamic, exigent but at the same time spontaneous teacher, with objectives very well defined. Her teaching method varies based on the students' needs, but when teaching Spanish as a Second Language, Raquel incorporates the Total Physical Response Method, the"Espontaneísta" teaching method and the "Montessori Approach".

Raquel firmly believes that the opportunity to share your success and failures with the people you love has no price, and for this reason, the more important concept in her life is the family. Outside of work, Raquel enjoys reading and volunteering at hospitals, nursing homes and nurseries.



Moises Moisés Nadal - República Dominicana

Moises is a native of República Dominicana and is certified as a Transitional Bilingual Teacher (Type 29 Certification). His passion for reading, cultural topics an bilingual education are reflected in his classroom dynamics. Moises is perfectly bilingual (Spanish/English) and his enthusiasm to teach Spanish and English as foreign language are evident in both his adult and children classes. In addition to his position as a language instructor at Spanish Horizons, he also has vast experience in the education field from working as Bilingual Teacher in the public schools including Dieterich Elementary School in Aurora, IL and Hillcrest Elementary School in Elgin, IL. Moises' experience as Bilingual Coordinator in Downers Grove South High School has also been valuable. Moises' bilingual skills are also an asset in the field of translation.

As an instructor, Moises demonstrates great competence in teaching from basic language skills to the most adavanced idiomatic expressions and language nuances pertaining to different professional areas. He is also known for his down to earth personality and constructive interactive style in the classroom.


Mercedes Adriana Peguero - México

Adriana is an integral part of our teaching staff. Originally from México, Adriana has worked as a Spanish Instructor for students of all ages at several Institutions, such as UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico). She greatly enjoys meeting people of all ages, places and cultures. During her free time, Adriana loves spend time with her family.



Colombia Flag Gerardo Pérez - Colombia

Gerardo is originally is originally from Colombia. He earned his degree in Government and International Relations from Universidad Externado de Colombia. He has volunteered in several organizations, most recently at Revista Contratiempo in Chicago. During his free time, Gerardo enjoys listening to music and reading.



Silvia Silvia Prada - España

Silvia is originally from Spain. She obtained her Degree in Elementary Education from “Centro IES” in Madrid, Spain. During these years, Silvia has gained experience teaching in different fields such as educational, social services, sports and cultural programs. She has taught in public schools in Spain and in Berlitz in Europe and the U.S.

Additionally, she has completed specialized courses to improve her abilities as educator, and has successfully extended her area of expertise to teenagers and adults. She has also worked with children with special language abilities, and learning problems. Silvia is skilled and equally comfortable teaching all ages from toddler to mature adults. She is a very dedicated teacher, and likes to plan and prepare her classes taking in mind the skills, talents, problems, and abilities of her students.

Silvia has ample experience leading after school programs in theater, library skills, arts and crafts, reading and writing, and homework skills. She uses various learning methods, as well as creative techniques to facilitate the understanding and communication with her students.

Silvia enjoys the flexibility offered at Spanish Horizons which allows instructors to modify and personalize the lessons in order to better meet the students’ specific needs and interests. She is a native Spanish speaker and fluent in English. Outside of work, Silvia enjoys traveling, reading, cinema and photography.



US Gregory J. Przybyla - E.U.A./Argentina

Greg earned his Bachelor's Degree in History and Spanish from Colorado State University, and completed his Master's Degree in Spanish and Latin American Literature at Loyola University, where he also works as Teaching Assistant Professor. He studied abroad in programs in Mendoza, Argentina, and Guanajuato, México. Greg thinks that learning Spanish is important because it is no useful anymore to be monolingual in this globalized world. His teaching philosophy is to make sure that all students feel confortable in his class in order to facilitate their participation and therefore their learning. Greg is one of the teachers hosting "El Club de Español" on Saturdays. Outside of work, Greg enjoys traveling, exercising, anything except watching T.V. He is an avid reader and among his favorite authors are Camilo José Cela, Pío Baroja, Miguel de Unamuno, Benito Pérez Galdós, Manuel Puig and Rodolfo Walsh.



Mercedes Yazmín Pulido - México

Yazmín is a valuable member of our Translation and Customer Service Department. She is originally from Guadalajara, México. Yazmín earned her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Music and Spanish from Quincy University. She has also studied abroad at Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara in Mexico. She loves working at Spanish Horizons because it gives her the opportunity to share her native language with others. During her spare time, Yazmin loves to travel, read, run, and can usually be found at concerts.


Emma Rodríguez - Colombia

Emma is native from Colombia. She holds a Master's Degree in Spanish from the Mississippi State University plus a Bachelor's Degree in Accountancy from "Universidad Externado de Colombia" in Colombia, and a Master's Degree in Private Finance from "Colegio Mayor de Nuestra Señora del Rosario" also in Colombia.

Emma has ten years of experience teaching Spanish at all levels, and has worked as Spanish Instructor at the Mississippi State University as well as other important Private Institutions in Mississippi and Chicago, such as Instituto Cervantes, North Park University, and Northeastern University.

Emma enjoys introducing students to the cultural aspects of the language, and establishes creative educational atmosphere by interacting socio-cultural elements while using various teaching styles thus providing students with whole language knowledge. She has also great experience preparing students with Spanish grammar structures, conversational skills and introduces them to the Hispanic Culture so they can communicate effectively with Spanish speaking people.

For four years, Emma successfully participated in the MFLA Annual Conference, presenting Gabriel García Márquez and Carlos Fuentes with the following papers: "Gabriel García Márques y el realismo mágico", "La muerte de Artemio Cruz", "Gringo Viejo, el encuentro de dos culturas en un cruce de fronteras", "Carlos Fuentes y la Revolución Mexicana".

Emma enjoys working at Spanish Horizons teaching group and private classes to adults and youths at all skill levels, and finds the professional yet friendly environment, uplifting.

Emma is a native Spanish speaker, and fluent in English.  Outside of the classroom, she enjoys to spend time with her family, and friends.



Nelida Nélida Ryl-Kuchar - Argentina

Nélida is an energetic teacher who enjoys working with children, integrating music and art with language and learning in the classroom, and has successfully taught Spanish to children in the U.S. since 1982.

Nélida is also highly experienced in teaching adults. She has traveled throughout the U.S. teaching Spanish onsite at major medical organizations and now provides onsite training services for groups as a member of the Spanish Horizon's team.

With her special knowledge of medicine (she obtained her degree in dentistry from the Universidad Nacional de Cordova in Argentina), she excels at teaching medical Spanish, and has extensive experience working with both large organizations, as well as private practice doctors.

She also completed her degree in teaching from Clara J. Armstrong Institute for Teacher's Training in Argentina in 1961 and completed the Berlitz Teaching Methods course in 1998.



Mercedes Adela Salgado - México

Adela is native from Mexico. She obtained a Degree in Bilingual Education from "Centro Cuahunahuac"in Cuernavaca, Mexico, with specialization in English-Spanish languages. Since 2002 she has been teaching Spanish as a Second Language at all levels (Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced) to foreign students of different nationalities, first in Mexico and later on, here in Chicago.

She has ample experience teaching in different fields such as educational, medical, social services, sports and cultural programs.

Adela is a methodic, organized and persistent teacher who enjoys emphasizing the grammar and vocabulary elements of the language in her classes, as well as the practice outside of classroom. She believes that in order to improve fluency speaking a different language, students have to listen carefully, imitate fluent speakers, memorize and repeat, read aloud, analyze the "grammar", assign definite study times and speak it.

Outside of classroom Adela enjoys to spend time with her family.


US Sonja Swenson - EUA

Silvia Sonja is an essential part of our Interpretation and Translation Departments. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Hispanic Linguistics and Culture, and in Latin America, Caribbean and Iberian Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also earned her Master's Degree in Conferencing Interpreting from Institut de Traducteurs,d'Interprètes et de Relations Internationales at the Universitè de Strasbourg in France. She is multilingual - with fluency in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Norwegian.



Angelica Angélica Tapia - México

Angélica was born and grew up in Mexico, where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from “Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México” (National Autonomous University of Mexico), one of the largest and most recognized universities in Mexico and Latin America.

Angélica is an essential part of the Spanish Horizons’ team at our before and after school Spanish Programs in elementary schools in Evanston, Lincoln Park and Lakeview. She has shown her high capacity, not only to teach the instructional content of the language, but to effectively manage a classroom, which is important for maintaining a nurturing environment conducive to learning.

Angélica excels at helping children acquire Spanish through the creation and integration of didactic hands-on activities and music in the classroom.

Outside of work, Angelica is getting ready for the arrival of her first child and she enjoys traveling with her husband and visiting family and friends in Mexico. In her free time she also designs silver jewelry.


Janette Torres - México

Janette is an essential part of Spanish Horizon's core Marketing and Customer Service team. She contributes to marketing and strategic direction in terms of Spanish Horizons' service offerings, and is there to help ensure that each student has an enjoyable experience.

Prior to joining Spanish Horizons, Janette worked at Televisa, the major television network in Mexico in Strategic Planning and Audience Analysis. She received her Bachelor's Degree in Marketing from the Monterrey's Institute of Technology and Higher Education (Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey) in Mexico City in 1998 and she is fully bi-lingual. Outside of work, Janette enjoys traveling, cinema and rock music.


M.Valencia Mábell V. - Colombia

Well-credentialed in the field of education – she holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish Language and Literature from the University of Cauca in Colombia, plus a Master’s Degree in Education Studies from the Technological University of Pereira, also in Colombia – Mábell provides a depth of Spanish language and cultural knowledge to her students. Her teaching style is highly interactive and immersive. She enjoys teaching a variety of students and at Spanish Horizons, Inc., including children, adults, and groups.

She is well versed in the Latin American Socio-Political Economy. In fact, she is a recognized activist and community organizer in her native country of Colombia, where she has been recognized with several important awards such as: “Women Educator” from the State Secretary of Education Culture and Sports, “Best Educational Radio Program” from the Association of Reporters, and “Best Cultural Radio Journalist” from the Association of Journalists.” She continues her charitable work today through her participation in the Christian Children’s Foundation and the National Institution of the Blind and other institutions that support indigenous communities, human rights and justice-related causes.

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