Students habla espagnol

April 15, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

BOONSBORO - Six-year-old Haley Wright has learned some exotic words since she began taking Spanish.

Gato y perro - dog and cat.

"It's not hard," the first-grader said as she and her classmates celebrated Spanish culture Thursday morning.

Haley and her classmates at Greenbrier Elementary School, which offers a partial Spanish-immersion program, showed off their linguistic skills while taking part in activities organized by members of Boonsboro High School's Spanish National Honor Society.

High school students helped their younger amigos create sombreros out of paper plates and cups, and led games of bingo and Smon Dice (Simon Says).


One high school group read "La Oruga Muy Hambrienta," a translation of Eric Carle's "The Caterpillar."

According to Danielle Mantz, 16, the children's expressions spoke a universal language.

"I think it's fun, just seeing all the kids' smiles," said Mantz, a sophomore. "They're cute, and they actually look like they enjoy Spanish."

Greenbrier teacher Pamela Oyanedel speaks only Spanish when she meets in small groups with the school's kindergarten and first-grade students. The immersion classes are 20 minutes a day, she said.

Oyanedel said she relies on facial expressions and pictures to impart understanding.

"I have convinced them I do not speak English," Oyanedel, who is Hispanic, said quietly as children prepared for Thursday's activities.

Oyanedel also teaches Spanish to older students at the school.

High school students said they were impressed with the children's command of Spanish. The high schoolers must be in a Spanish 3-level or more accelerated course to be eligible for the honor society, Boonsboro teacher Renee Kauffman said.

Twenty-four high school students visited Greenbrier, Kauffman said.

"It's neat for the high schoolers to see how much the elementary school students are able to pick up," Kauffman said.

Haley said learning Spanish hasn't been hard. She talked as she drew hearts on her paper-plate sombrero.

Haley shrugged her shoulders when asked what the craft was called.

"Mexico hat or something?" she asked.

Caitlin Humphrey, 15, said she was surprised by how much the younger students have learned. She ate a sugar-coated Mexican wedding cookie as her new amigos said gracias and waved their goodbyes.

"It was awesome. I love working with little kids," said Humphrey, a sophomore. "They surprised me. I don't know, 6-year-olds speaking Spanish ... it's crazy."

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