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Special program brings students together with Spanish

LatinaLista — What’s the difference between Latino students of one high school versus “Spanish students” at another?
The quick assumption would be that they are the same — all Hispanic students. Yet, that’s not true in this case. While the Latino students of Danbury High School are Hispanic, the Spanish students from Joel Barlow High School in Redding, Connecticut are students of the Spanish language.
In an ingenious way to “immerse” his Spanish students in the language, Spanish teacher Christopher Poulos, initiated a program where he took his 14 students studying for the Advanced-Placement Spanish exam to Danbury high school which has a student population of 45 percent minority versus the 6 percent minority rate at Poulos’ home school.
The AP students interact with members of the Danbury school’s Aspira Club, a national Latino student leadership program. They speak only in Spanish with one another, but that’ not all.

The visit was an eye-opener for Blake Kramer, a 17-year-old senior at Joel Barlow.
“We took a biology class and the teacher taught in English and Spanish and Portuguese. It was really interesting,” she said. “In our school I only know one or two kids who come from Spanish-speaking backgrounds, and (in Danbury) it’s the most common ethnicity.”

The program is so creative that a New York University professor is highlighting it on a web site of best practices for teachers. Not to mention, that this program is a great way to boost Latino students’ self-esteem.
While students get to see firsthand just how beneficial it is to know another language, they have the opportunity to feel good about themselves for helping their new friends.
It just goes to show that there exists a wealth of creative solutions in our educational system. All it takes is a bit of imagination, seeing a need and schools/administrators cooperating for the good of the students.

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  • Roland
    January 2, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    Everyone in the Western Hemisphere should learn Spanish, English, and ideally Portuguese and French as well. I learned French in school, and although it enabled me to live in France, I don’t get to use it much anymore. Spanish would be much more useful now.

  • cookie
    January 7, 2010 at 9:12 am

    I disagree, Roland. When would we Americans use French or Portuguese? As for learning Spanish, most Hispanic Americans are bilingual so why would we need to learn Spanish to converse with them? Besides, immigrants should adapt to our language of English, not the other way around.

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