Noel Pri­mary Stu­dents Learn­ing Span­ish

McDonald County Press - - FRONT PAGE - Rachel Dick­er­son

At Noel Pri­mary School, first­grade teacher and na­tive Span­ish speaker Mariela Hur­tado is teach­ing Span­ish classes to first and sec­ond grades.

She said she is teach­ing them sim­ple vo­cab­u­lary words like colors or ar­ti­cles of cloth­ing. She said she has taught the chil­dren to say the days of the week and the names of the months, how to say fam­ily mem­bers, body parts and dif­fer­ent kinds of food. Dur­ing a recent class, she asked the stu­dents why it is im­por­tant to learn Span­ish.

They an­swered, “To talk with other peo­ple.” “If your par­ents speak Span­ish.” An­other stu­dent de­scribed the con­cept of trans­lat­ing, and Hur­tado told her the word for it and agreed that was a good rea­son to learn Span­ish.

Next Hur­tado said dif­fer­ent types of cloth­ing in Span­ish and had the stu­dents stand up if they were wear­ing those items. Then they had a “scavenger hunt” in which they had to cut out pic­tures of items of cloth­ing, color them the cor­rect shade and glue them to a piece of pa­per, all us­ing cues in Span­ish.

Hur­tado said fol­low­ing the class, “I think it’s a re­ally good way to pre­pare them for the fu­ture. If they take a high school class in the fu­ture, they’ll be ex­posed to it. We just want our kids at Noel Pri­mary

to grow as much as they can.”

She noted she tries to in­cor­po­rate what they are learn­ing in their home­room into her lessons. She also said she has had sev­eral Pa­cific Is­lan­ders who have picked up Span­ish with­out an ac­cent.

“I think it’s fas­ci­nat­ing when I see non-na­tive speak­ers us­ing Span­ish words. Be­cause they’re learn­ing and they’re pre­par­ing them­selves for the fu­ture. I think it’s go­ing to help a lot when they get to high school if they take a for­eign lan­guage. They have at least been ex­posed to a for­eign lan­guage,” she said.

This is the first year for Span­ish classes at Noel Pri­mary. Prin­ci­pal Deb­o­rah Pear­son ex­plained how the classes got started.

“Many of our chil­dren are His­panic and they speak Span­ish at home but not at school. This can lead to con­fu­sion and dif­fi­cul­ties in their learn­ing. Of­ten times, His­panic stu­dents can speak Span­ish, but can­not write it or read it — this makes it even more dif­fi­cult for them to be­come flu­ent in their na­tive lan­guage, so when they are pro­cess­ing English lan­guage, it hin­ders their com­pre­hen­sion. So teach­ing Span­ish is nec­es­sary to sup­port our fam­i­lies’ her­itage and to sup­port their chil­dren’s learn­ing.”

She added, “I’m very ex­cited and proud that all (His­panic, Cau­casian, So­mali, Mi­crone­sian, Burmese) of our stu­dents of all cul­tures are be­ing ex­posed to a sec­ond lan­guage at a young age. It is my hope that the chil­dren will con­tinue learn­ing con­ver­sa­tional Span­ish as they get older so, when they make it to high school, they will be suc­cess­ful in aca­demic Span­ish. This op­por­tu­nity sup­ports our vi­sion to help our chil­dren be ca­reer and col­lege ready when they grad­u­ate.”

RACHEL DICK­ER­SON/MCDON­ALD COUNTY PRESS

First-grade teacher and na­tive Span­ish speaker Mariela Hur­tado teaches Span­ish to a group of sec­ond-graders at Noel Pri­mary School. She teaches Span­ish classes to first and sec­ond grades at the school.

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