Se Habla Español?
Hamilton Students Teach Spanish to Clinton Kindergarten and First-Grade
By Adam Pfander '16
Contact: Holly Foster 315-859-4068
November 21, 2012
A group of Hamilton College students are sharing their knowledge of the Spanish language with some very young learners this year. They’re volunteering their time to tutor first grade and kindergarten students in Spanish at Clinton Central Schools (CCS). Organized by Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies Edna Rodríguez-Plate, the program began at the start of this academic year.
The concept for the Spanish tutoring program was first proposed by Steve Marcus, principal of CCS. In the past, French professor Cheryl Morgan – currently in Paris as the resident director of the Hamilton College Junior Year in France – organized similar tutoring programs. Marcus contacted Rodríguez-Plate to ask if there was any interest in running a Spanish tutorship with Hamilton students.
Rodríguez-Plate asked her student and received 22 applications. The student-teachers went through a quick crash course in teaching, which focused on “learning how to control a class of kindergarteners who all want their voices heard at once,” said Rodríguez-Plate. They were also given a lesson plan—which outlines basic vocabulary and grammar. “The learning is very experiential, very communicative,” she noted, adding, “It focuses on vocab, focuses on play, on family, on what’s your favorite color… basic things.”
The tutors have added a lot to the CCS curriculum, with warm reception. “The exposure to languages and cultures will open their minds to the possibilities that exist,” said Marcus. Rodríguez-Plate agrees. The Clinton students are given a chance to familiarize themselves with language. The program, “lets them hear otherness, so they are not intimidated…. It makes the idea of a foreign language accessible,” she explained.
The Hispanic Studies department is providing the materials and the support. Student volunteers are Madison Beres ’15, Talia Bloom ’15, Elly Field ’13, Anna Flores ’14, Harper Gany-Beitler ’13, Emily Hughes ’13, Jose Iraheta ’13, Julia Jarrold ’13, Abby Keim ’15, Ellie Kiernan ’14, Elisa MacColl ’16, Sirianna Santacrose ’15, Ashleigh Stephan ’15, Mary Thede ’15, Rachel Tiche ’13, and Melissa Yow ’14. Chaplain Jeff McArn has helped with transportation and Britt Hysell, coordinator of the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program, has also provided materials.
“One of our goals is to expose children to cultural differences, another way of speaking, another way of doing things from the beginning of their education,” concluded Rodríguez-Plate. “Once the children realize that it is not only possible but easy to learn a second language, they may be motivated to continue later on in their life.”