Craig students expand minds with after-school Spanish program | CraigDailyPress.com

Craig students expand minds with after-school Spanish program

Knez: Elementary-level learning increases later mastery of language

Learning another language can open up the world to a student, and the sooner the groundwork is laid the better.

Kids at Ridgeview Elementary SchoolRidgeview Elementary School have received an introduction to the Spanish language as part of an after-school program this semester, offered for the first time at the school. have received an introduction to the Spanish language as part of an after-school program this semester, offered for the first time at the school.

Ridgeview Elementary School have received an introduction to the Spanish language as part of an after-school program this semester, offered for the first time at the school.

"The Ridgeview parent community really valued a language opportunity for our children," said Principal Amber Clark, noting that designing the sessions as an extracurricular activity was the best way to meet the need.

The weekly courses are intended to provide a casual approach to the dialect with activities and vocabulary and build an interest in being bilingual.

Jessica Knez, language instructor for Moffat County High SchoolMoffat County High School, began working with a small group of Ridgeview students earlier this year., began working with a small group of Ridgeview students earlier this year.

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Moffat County High School, began working with a small group of Ridgeview students earlier this year.

Classes are similar to what a high school freshman enrolled in Spanish might learn but at a slower pace, such as days of the week, numbers and weather conditions.

The simple sentence "Está lloviendo" — "It's raining" — is an example of conversational Spanish that provides basis for further learning.

The level of immersion is not intense enough to expect fluency, but creating a foundation is key, Knez said.

"I feel like kids at this age retain a little bit more in the week that I give them than my older kids that I see every other day," she said, noting that educational studies show learning new material often sticks more at the elementary level.

Making the process fun is also important. Repeating phrases off flash cards helps instill the pronunciation and definition, but students got more of a visual association of how to verbally articulate hair and eye color through the board game "Guess Who?

After a session, second-grader Brooklyn Garcia went through some of the words she learned en Español for basic body parts, pointing to her cabeza (head) and ojos (eyes).

Learning something new in different ways each week is part of what she enjoys.

"It was really fun to go up into the computer lab and play these games where you learned about Spanish and animals," Garcia said.

Nurturing the desire to learn more is part of the goal, Knez said, and though high school and college are years away, elementary school truly can set the tone for the future.

"The kids that do have the experience of learning Spanish or any other language, once they get up to those higher levels and it's more high stakes, it's a little bit easier for them once they've been immersed and know what it takes," she said.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.