The same was true for fifth-grade teacher Jane Muse, who said she took Spanish in high school "a long time ago."
Muse was among a small group of teachers at Greenbrier Thursday who turned out for a Command Spanish class with Hagerstown Community College instructor Ariadne Jacobs.
Dawn Deener, a second-grade teacher at the school, is another of the teachers taking the HCC course.
On Monday, while laminating a poster with words to a Spanish song, Deener, who's taught at the school for 27 years, said she took Latin instead of Spanish in school, but said her knowledge of that language has helped her with this one.
"The only thing I worry about is that I might not be pronouncing right," she said.
The school's teachers are learning how to pronounce words in Spanish, sometimes without learning their meanings, through the Command Spanish program, an eight-week noncredit course offered through the college. It's a switch from traditional Spanish courses some of the teachers have taken in the past and also is a switch for Jacobs, who told the teachers during their Thursday lesson, "Now I'm not supposed to tell you the meanings of these words."
The class emphasis is on pronunciation, she said, as she guided teachers through the sounds of the alphabet.
Jacobs told them to practice, and suggested they could do that while they brush their teeth.
Principal Elaine Semler said if she were to poll her teachers, she believed she'd find that about 75 percent to 80 percent of them are excited about the new program while the rest are following through with the program despite their opinions.
"The goal is not that we become fluent Spanish teachers," Semler said.
She said she was not overly worried about how students are pronouncing their vocabulary words this year. Instead, she wants everyone to learn words now. Next year, when more grammar is introduced, she said she hopes teachers can help students fine-tune pronunciations.
Some students were a little frustrated that their pronunciations weren't perfect.
Alison Holmes, 10, said, "It's hard on my tongue. Whenever you have to roll your tongue it just gets hard."
"I can't roll my tongue," said Kyle Briggs, 9, a fourth-grader. He said, however, "I like how the letters are pronounced differently."
Alison said she learned some French at a Frederick County, Md., school she attended last year and now can't decide which language she likes better.
She said her younger sisters also are learning Spanish, one at Greenbrier and one at a nursery school. Alison said she likes to use their books to read Spanish because she can hide the English translations while reading Spanish. Later she can see if she understood the words correctly, she said.
Karyme Grumbine, 10, a fifth-grader, said her neighbors, who sponsored an Argentine foreign exchange student last year, have helped her pronounce her words better.
Carrie said she wants to learn every English word she knows in Spanish. "When I get older I could take a lot of classes and move to Mexico and teach classes in Spanish," she said.
Semler said she is not worried that some of the students showed much more excitement for learning Spanish than they have for learning other subjects. Some students admitted to spending twice as much time at home on Spanish than on math or reading.
Teachers are incorporating Spanish into lessons on math and reading, upon which the students will be tested in the Maryland School Assessments, she said. The MSA, the state's standardized test, is partly responsible for gauging whether the school is progressing as expected under the federal No Child Left Behind act. In elementary schools, attendance is the other factor used to track progress.
The federal act is designed to close the achievement gap between schools and make sure all students, including disadvantaged groups, are academically proficient.
Studies have shown that students with a good grasp of foreign languages perform better in other subjects, Semler said.
Muse said teaching Spanish will not keep her from teaching students reading, writing and arithmetic.
"I'm not going to let it," she said.