A two week program of study has made a huge difference in language interest as students immersed in French, German and Spanish developed an appreciation for the language and a desire to learn more.
7 year old Kaylee Schneider is proud of her skills after two weeks immersion in the Spanish language. She can read books, and had developed a vocabulary. For the first time, she can identify colo9rs and foods in Spanish.
Holding up a book in the “biblioteca” Kaylee proudly declared “I learned how to read in Spanish because all the books are in Spanish.”
More than 100 students participated in Bilingual Beginnings, a total immersion language camp for first- and second-graders put on by UW-Eau Claire for the first time this summer. Students could choose between Spanish, German or French and participate in the camps led by university students studying language and education.
“We try to only speak Spanish to the kids, so that’s how they’re learning,” said Charlie Mabie, a UW-Eau Claire student and one of the Spanish camp teachers.
Each camp, hosted at the university’s Children’s Nature Academy at The Priory, southwest of Eau Claire, lasts for two weeks and focuses on different areas of interest related to nature. The theme of Kaylee’s camp was the market, or “el mercado.”
Katrina Schmudlach, a UW-Eau Claire student and one of the camp teachers, said camp workers use songs, actions and descriptions to help kids catch on to the vocabulary quickly.
“You don’t need to know everything we say. Just listen, and we do a lot of actions,” she said.
To help students learn, Schmudlach and Mabie also use plenty of cognates, words that sound the same in another language as they do in English, such as lemon and limón.
The progress children made during the course of the camp was remarkable, Mabie said