Spanish success in Four Paths
The Four Paths Primary and Junior High School in Clarendon has been making great strides in teaching Spanish as a second language, with students in the six to 12-year-old age group showing tremendous promise. The school has benefited from the services of a Spanish teacher, sent by the Ministry of Education, for the past eight years. Principal Norman Allen said the students and teachers were happy the initiative has been introduced in their school.
The ministry, through a partnership with Cuba, brings Spanish teachers in to teach the subject at schools.
"The students are timetabled for Spanish from grades one to nine and they have been doing really well, especially grades one to six. They are interested in the subject and they speak the language very well. It is surprising to hear especially the grade one students speaking conversational Spanish and then being able to properly translate into English," said the principal. He added that the students are encouraged to learn Spanish as a second language, and hopes that when they get to high school the love and enthusiasm will follow them so they will be able to speak the language fluently by the time they finish secondary education.
Altinay Palacio is the sole Spanish teacher at Four Paths Primary and she is proud of her work. "The students here are just amazing. We have slow students here but I don't tell them they are slow, instead I encourage them and find creative ways to get them interested in schoolwork to improve their learning. I get good grades, because the principal and other members of staff are really supportive of the Spanish programme, so the students do really well," she told Rural Xpress.
Acknowledging that it was a challenge at first to get the students to accept the new subject, Palacio said she had to incorporate games, songs and other creative ways to spark the students' interest in the subject.
"She is an excellent teacher, she handles the students well, she commands their respect and she gets them to respond and she is able to communicate with them in Spanish. We ensure the engagement is such that the students actually learn the language, and this also sets the foundation for students to excel in the subject at high school, having been exposed to it since grade one," said Allen.