About the Author
by Jonathon W. Baldwin
Western Oregon University
Armand A. Gagnon was born in Buffalo, New York in May of 1950. He moved to Burbank, California at nine months of age. In the summer of 1960, after seeing a 1940’s black-and-white science fiction movie one hot July afternoon (at the local Cornell Théâtre) wherein aliens on another planet realistically spoke in a “secret code”, he went ahead and taught himself French using only Charles Duff’s book French for Beginners, along with some French Learn-a-Language Series LP records his mother had bought for him at a local rummage sale.
Motivated to learn a "secret code" that his parents wouldn't understand and without any teacher or tutor, Mr. Gagnon memorized hundreds of words and phrases weekly, mastering them on his own, with little or no American accent in his speech! By the age of 12, he was completely fluent enough in the French language to converse clearly with his newly acquired neighbor Jacques Valin, who had recently arrived to the Los Angeles area from Amiens, France. With the intent in mind to become a French teacher someday, Mr. Gagnon pursued French all through junior and senior high schools, adding Charles Berlitz language books to his library. Comparative and historical lingüistics, along with astronomy, were rapidly becoming his new hobbies, for Griffith Observatory lay at his doorstep atop the nearby Santa Monica Mountains.
An unreciprocated crush on a Cuban girl he had met in high school inspired Mr. Gagnon to pursue Spanish for the first time in his junior year in September 1966 at John Burroughs High School. This ultimately lead to his professional pursuit of the Spanish language, inspired even further with the increasing number of newly arrived Hispanic residents moving into the San Fernando Valley. Eventually, he completed higher degrees in the language. He has interpreted professionally for the County of Ventura, subtitled videos for Walt Disney Productions, taught bilingüal Kindergarten in the public schools in Oxnard, California, Spanish and English as a Second Language in the secondary grades, and was a "teacher of public school teachers" with the Ventura County Superintendent of Schools.
Currently Mr. Gagnon teaches Spanish at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon, where he was nominated Instructor of the Year 1999-2000. He continues to do freelance translations on- and off-line. His travels include Mexico, Spain, France, Chile, Canada, and many of these United States (including Alaska).
Mr. Gagnon boasts not only having visited Disneyland the first week it opened in July 1955, but when Walt Disney’s The Mickey Mouse Club débuted on television on Monday, October 3, 1955, with only one month into his Kindergarten school year at Thomas Edison Elementary School in Burbank, he took the chance to go down to the Disney Studios on Buena Vista Street, 2 miles from his home, to meet Kevin Corcoran, Annette Funicello, Cubby O’Brien, and many more Mouseketeers up close and personal. Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy had literally moved right into his own backyard that year as Walt Disney had moved his studios to Burbank from Chicago, Illinois. He first saw Song of the South (1946) at the Van Nuys Drive-In in Van Nuys in 1956 while in the first grade. During the mid-1960s, Mr. Gagnon had the good fortune to walk down Olive Avenue in Burbank to the NBC Studios and watch live The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Let’s Make a Deal, I’ll Bet, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In Show, The Andy Williams Show, and many others, free of charge, long before Universal Studios had come to town.
Armand A. Gagnon has written his collection of dark, other-worldly short stories of fantasy Festival of Holiday Miniatures (1993), numerous essays, and now is completing his simple, to-the-point and clever, fully cartooned language method book The Spanish Sampler, soon to hit the publisher. He currently resides with his family in Western Oregon.
To order THE SPANISH SAMPLER:
Please continue to Lingüistic Sources of Hallowe'en.
Hallowe'en poem: Winds of October
Day of the Dead/Día de los muertos
Origins of Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving short story of fantasy: The Ghost of Thanksgiving
Origins of Christmas
Origins of St.Valentine's Day
Origins of Easter
The Indo-European Family Of Languages
Indigenous Languages of Alaska and Siberia
Armand A. Gagnon on "UNIVERSATILE" LANGUAGE
Tales of B'rer Rabbit, as Spun by Uncle Remus
Methodologies in Foreign Language Teaching
The History of the Guitar in Spain w/ YOU TUBE video
Essay: Is Academia Purely 'Academic'?
Artificiality in Foreign Language Teaching
Anti Semantic: What's in a Word?
for Spanish instruction & translations