Out of Many, One Language - Spanish Carol Service A Hit With Students
Students of Spanish from various educational institutions across the island gathered recently at the Webster Memorial United Church in St Andrew to celebrate the birth of Jesus in a carol service conducted entirely in Spanish.
Students experienced a full immersion in Spanish culture through participation in the reading of Bible verses and singing of traditional and modern carols in Spanish.
The overall objective was to have Spanish language students use what they have learnt and be exposed to this aspect of the culture.
"Over the years, with this activity, I have seen students gain confidence not only in the language, but in themselves," said Emma-June Bell, founder and coordinator of the National Spanish Carol Service.
"The classroom setting is great, but to continue to motivate our students, we must set them goals outside of the textbook and make every day a memorable connection for them," Bell said.
"In Jamaica, there's nothing quite like Christmas, so connecting Spanish culture and language to a time that every Jamaican child knows well makes this carol service a powerful learning tool. It's also highly entertaining," she added.
For the 11th staging, the Embassy of Spain encouraged the participation of Spanish-speaking countries with embassies and consulates in Jamaica.
"We invited other embassies to share carols and popular readings with the students this year, to ensure we continue to expand their learning in addition to showing our collective appreciation for the reception of the Spanish language and culture here in Jamaica," said Carmen Rives Ruiz-Tapiador, chargé d'affaires of the Embassy of Spain.
"The inclusion of other Spanish-speaking countries apart from Spain is an indicator that Spanish language is shared and has expanded. This year's participation of the Embassy of the United States of America is further demonstration of the expansion and inclusiveness of the language. The United States is home to more Spanish speakers than in Spain itself," Ruiz-Tapiador said.
The event which was endorsed by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information stands as an excellent model for cultural activities that encourages bilingualism, a tool of distinction in today's market place.
Representatives of Spain, the United States, Mexico, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, El Salvador worked with Crayon College, Calabar High School, Shortwood Teachers' College, Hillel Academy, Meadowbrook High School, Norman Manley High School, Holy Childhood High School, Immaculate Conception High School, The Music House, Excelsior High School, Kingston Technical High School, Convent of Mercy Academy, St George's College, Alpha Institute, Portmore Missionary Preparatory, Half-Way Tree Primary, Bustamante High School, Promise Learning Centre, and American International School of Kingston, to make this year's staging a reality.