Success in Spanish

Tricia Cammerzell
Spanish language instruction begins in Preschool and continues through Grade 8 at Kent School. The curriculum involves much more than memorizing and reciting vocabulary words. It is an effective spiraling approach which results in our graduates completing high school level Spanish 1. Depending on a student’s secondary school selection and if they choose to continue their Spanish studies, students matriculate into Spanish 2, Honors Spanish 2 and some even place into Spanish 3.
Our youngest students become familiar with the Spanish language through songs, stories and dance. Students and teachers will often read a favorite book together, such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle at story time. Then during Spanish they will share the same book in Spanish with full comprehension.
Our Lower School Spanish curriculum spirals from Kindergarten through Grade 4. Students enhance vocabulary skills and refine basic grammar skills to build meaningful, descriptive sentences and paragraphs. As they enter Middle School with a solid bank of vocabulary and grammar rules students begin more intense language development along with a cultural exploration.
In Middle School, students explore the Spanish speaking regions of the world, learning about customs, traditions and celebrations. The students’ conversational Spanish is broadened with creative, long-term projects like urban design, home design, the creation of videos and imaginative advertisements. In Grade 6, students begin immersion instruction. No English is spoken in the classroom. This approach and accompanying instructional tools ensures the overall success of the Spanish program at Kent School.
Kent School Spanish teacher, Betsey Hottel said, “I think the key to our long-term success is that we keep the students engaged and active in Spanish. Very rarely do you see the teacher at the front of the room lecturing or ‘drilling’ the students in vocabulary or verb conjugations. These skills are important, of course, but we master them using more active than passive techniques. Our goal is mastery so we frequently revisit previous material and build on that.” Hottel continued, “I am proud of my students’ successes. I love to hear from our alumni as they have completed high level Spanish classes in high school and into college. I am glad that we are able to give them such a comprehensive foundation at Kent School.