Offering Spanish for native speakers may seem to be odd when so many efforts are dedicated to teaching Spanish to English Speaking students, and teaching English to ELL students. But despite a small number of students of Hispanic heritage in the district, a class for heritage Spanish speakers who are not challenged in normal Spanish classes will be offered this fall in the Williamson County Schools.
According to Christina Gilliland, world language curriculum specialist for the district, the class will begin at Centennial High School in Franklin, with a 14 percent Hispanic population, which is nearly triple the county Hispanic population of 5 percent.
The creation of the class was prompted by teacher and student feedback. Heritage Spanish speakers had learned spanish in early childhood, but became more competent in English.
“We asked the kids, ‘What’s going on?’ They said, ‘It doesn’t meet our needs, we already speak Spanish,’ ” Gilliland said.
“Many of those who identify as heritage Spanish speakers, they have great experience speaking the language. What they never really had the opportunity to do is develop literacy skills, reading and writing in that target language,” Gilliland said.
“The main focus of the course is to beef up those literacy skills. We’re excited that the research has shown across the country that students who develop literacy skills in their native language also enhance their English literacy skills,” she said. “This trickles down to other academic subjects and disciplines.”