Its not unusual for students to learn Spanish in a class but teachers learning Spanish is becoming a new necessity for communicating with students and their families in their own language.
So on the day that Socorro Nelson was singing a simple verse to teach new wordss “Soy una pizza con mucho queso” her audience was not children, but teachers who replied “I am a pizza with lots of cheese”.
A kindergarten teacher at the bilingual Cali Calmecac Language Academy in Windsor, Nelson was teaching teachers, librarians and other professionals as part of the weeklong Spanish Language Immersion Institute at the Sonoma County Office of Education.
Teachers, nurses, and local government employees are seeking ways to learn Spanish and reach into the increasing Spanish speaking community.
“A lot of the teachers have told me that many of the students that they are getting in their classrooms speak very little English,” Nelson said. “That’s why they are trying to acquire the basic Spanish, so they can help the students — (and) feed the needs of the growing Hispanic community that we have in Sonoma County.”
The program is among several that are trying to boost Spanish literacy in the county. They include the Petaluma-based language school Colors of Spanish and classes at Santa Rosa Junior College that frequently draw educators.
Guadalupe Tausch, founder of Colors of Spanish, said those who learn a new tongue are more receptive to new ideas and cultures. “People also earn more money,” she added.
She offers 10-week Spanish classes for adults at her school. Many of her students are doctors, nurses and technicians in the medical field who often get patients who don’t speak English, Tausch said.
“Learning a second language is a privilege,” Tausch said. “But it’s something you have to work hard at every day.”