East facilitates new bilingual program

McKayla Vermeer, Co-Editor in Chief

The sounds of many voices fill the air as the bright light shines on the many students in the room. There’s definitely an age difference between the two groups of students here, but all show the same excitement.

As a part of their curriculum, the Spanish V students at East work to teach a younger group of students basics of Spanish.

“When the class became AP and dual enrollment, I thought that there needs to be a community component because it’s college level and all of my college level courses had a community activism or outreach,” Spanish instructor Piper Porras said. “As a teacher, I just thought that there’s something we can do in the community – literacy.”

East Spanish V students ,in conjunction with the Early Childhood Center (ECC), have been working to help teach children aged 3 to 5 basic level Spanish. Earlier in the year, parents were given the opportunity to sign their children up for this class.

“I just thought kids need that, and the earlier you expose a kid, the better their language skills are in either language. You could even expose them to nine languages and they’d be fine,” Porras said. “The window starts to close at age seven for second language learning, and that doesn’t mean you won’t learn it, but you’ll always have an accent. I just felt passionately about community outreach because it’s AP and that’s a good college skill, and literacy can just change your life.”

The Spanish V class travels from East to the ECC every Wednesday during second hour in order to go teach the children. The experience can vary from week to week, but generally it is positive and fast paced.

“I see all children young and old learning from each other new vocabulary and it is so much fun to see how they come in the morning and start greeting everyone. The interactions and conversations are priceless to build lifelong relationships,” bilingual paraprofessional at the ECC Raquel Ramirez said.

Currently, the Spanish V students are assigned into groups of four or five and they all work together to help teach groups of two to five preschool aged children the basics of Spanish. Each Tuesday the high school students get in their groups and lesson plan for the following day. The high school students teach only very basic Spanish to the children, which can range from colors, numbers, and other simple vocabulary words based on whatever book they are reading that week.

The idea of Spanish V students going on to work with teaching younger students basic Spanish is not unique to just this year. In past years, the high school students had the opportunity to work with elementary school students instead. Due to scheduling conflicts this year, it was decided to instead take the opportunity to students at the ECC.

“This program is a great opportunity to introduce a second language to children and also a benefit for hispanic families to maintain their native language skills and an opportunity to learn English,” Ramirez said. “This is a wonderful opportunity for children and adults to connect cultures and respect each other to build greater communities all around the world.”

Having the opportunity to teach and connect with the younger students can be very valuable to the high school students. This class provides experiences for the students in and out of the classroom.

“I also think it helps people see how easily you can have purpose. Like there are things that you can do in any class that can give you a sense of purpose and worth,” Porras said.