Our first month at Whittier!

We are nearly one month into our Joyce Spanish Immersion at Whittier program! These first classes have been a lot of fun, and have brought teachers and students together to learn about language and each other.

Although this is Joyce’s first year managing the program, Whittier Elementary has held before-school Spanish enrichment classes in the past. Coming into the school – and into the lives of students beyond preschool age – teachers Erika, Janett, and Nancy have been working to bring Joyce’s culturally immersive experience into the context of mixed-age and mixed-ability classes.

The group consists of 30 students from kindergarten to fifth grade, many of whom have studied Spanish before through clubs, camps, and classes, as well as several for whom Spanish is completely new. In a typical class, the group divides up into three smaller sections, each guided by a teacher, in order to increase interaction and make for a more immersive experience.

Each class involves a short circle time, similar to class at Joyce Preschool, but tailored to fit an older group of students. Like preschool, however, there is lots of singing, movement, and crafting, because the teaching team’s main objective is to get the group excited about both the language and the learning process. In this first month, this means there have been lots of interactive games in the Whittier gym, like ratoncito and barco en el mar, which get the kids up and running while increasing Spanish vocabulary. Classes have also used games like Jenga, Uno, and Trouble in small groups to elicit the students’ previous Spanish skills while helping them learn words about taking turns and giving directions. The group has also used lessons about Dia de los Muertos to get into the cultural aspect of language learning, focusing on decorating calaveras, making paper flowers and papel picado, and singing songs about the tradition of celebrating loved ones who have died.

Joyce Spanish Immersion at Whittier has already provided an opportunity for Joyce teachers to adapt their skills to an older group of students, while strengthening the relationship between the schools and, of course, helping another community of students to immerse in Spanish language and culture. The rest of this school year promises more adventures for the new program!

This page is also available in: Spanish

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