At Russellville City Schools, a summer program introducing students to Spanish has become a popular addition to the PAWS summer activities.
Pedro Francisco served as an EL aide last year, teaching English to non-English speaking students. This summer, he changed things around, teaching basic Spanish to children in the summer program.
“They figured they could use me in the program just as a male role model, which I was very excited about, but then they also asked me if I would be willing to teach Spanish,” Francisco said. “And I said sure. I thought it was a great idea.”
Once a week, Francisco works with one grade level at a time on Spanish letters, numbers, and vocabulary. In lower grades, since children are still learning English language skills he keeps his instructions at a manageable level.
“Some of them catch on very quickly,” Francisco said. He finds that the younger children are eager to learn, but the older ones treat the lessons like regular school work.
Francisco wants to open up the intercultural awareness among children. “You have students who maybe are not immigrants – maybe they are first generation Americans – but their heritage is maybe Guatemalan or Mexican or somewhere,” he said. “I think it’s just important for the students to be able to understand that in this society they need to be able to interconnect with other people of different backgrounds.”