Kingsley Area Schools offers Spanish language courses up to Spanish III. Kingsley Middle School Spanish teacher Amanda Acosta is here to share a little more information about the class, and why learning a language is so important.
Where did your passion for Spanish and language start?
I want to be a veterinarian when I first started college, so I majored in Animal Science my first year and a half. Then it was like, 'hmmm, I love animals, but I don't really like math or science.' I always loved Spanish but I never thought about going into it as a career. But at that time I really need to figure out what I was going to do, so I thought, 'Why not teach it?'
Why is it important for students to take a language class?
We border Mexico. Spanish is a huge, huge part of our country! California, Arizona, Florida, you name it. A giant part of the world speaks Spanish so it's really important to know the language and to be able to communicate. When you're traveling, you want to be able to know what people are saying, right? It's good to know at least the basics of the language to know how to get around or to know if you're getting ripped off or something.
I think a really cool eye-opener for them and myself is going on Spring Break. 90% of my kids said they heard Spanish in some form over spring break, whether they were in Traverse City or they were traveling. A lot of people went to Florida, and the kids were so shocked that Spanish is everywhere down there!
I definitely think it's important to start the language as young as possible.
Foreign language is also a requirement to graduate.
Can you talk about your own travel experiences in Spanish-speaking countries?
I studied abroad in Ecuador in college for a semester and I have been to Dominican Republic many times. I took a trip to the Dominican with students in 2019 during the summer and we taught English there, and that's actually where I met my husband!
What do you do in your classes?
Four years ago, I changed my teaching style. Instead of doing more traditional worksheets, I do more real-life conversations. If I say something to one of my students, I want them to know what I'm saying and not look at me like I'm crazy.
We're trying to speak as much Spanish as possible. We're not studying the language we're using the language.
Sometimes the kids get really frustrated. But I want them to know what that frustration feels like, especially for people that come here to the United States. I want them to know how people feel when they struggle with English or when people make fun of their accents.
It doesn't have to be perfect, but if someone can understand you, you get your point across.
Every Wednesday the kids watch a music video and they try to pull out Spanish words they know and they translate them to English. As long as they can get the gist of it, then you're communicating.
What kind of cultural units do you teach?
Mexico's Independence Day, Day of the Dead, and different traditions for Christmas, as well as other holidays throughout the year. I really like showing them movies like Coco and watching them in Spanish. A lot of them have already seen them in English but it's just good to have them watch a movie and then talk about the cultural pieces of that and hear the language.
What do you love about teaching middle school Spanish?
I feel like at this age in middle school, it's really easy to teach them stuff because they just think they're having fun, but they're actually learning. You can still change them and mold their minds.
To learn more about Spanish class, reach out to Mrs. Acosta at email@example.com