Noel Primary Students Learning Spanish
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.”
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.