She had two different flip-flops on her 3-year-old feet, but that didn’t stop Jillian Bushee from jumping up and down, screaming out colors in Spanish. Beside her was her sister, 5-year-old Kameryn Murray and in front of her was Andrea Grindea, a Spanish education major and instructor of the 3-to-5-year-old “Spanish Lessons for Children” program at Castleton State College.
“It’s just really interesting. At first, I’m really nervous when I enter the classroom, (but) getting to spend time with kids, different ages, it’s just a lot of fun,” Grindea said.
The program began last year when the Spanish department coordinators, professors and students organized ideas to invite children from the surrounding community to Castleton for Spanish lessons.
Every Tuesday and Thursday from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., the bottom of Leavenworth Hall becomes a place where children ages 3 to 10 gather and participate in Spanish lessons.
The lessons include teaching methods targeted toward two age groups and creative games and art are used to engage the children in Spanish language.
“We are trying to introduce language and promote Spanish as early as possible. Whatever they learn will be ingrained,” said Delma Wood, Spanish professor at Castleton. “We want the kids to learn how to feel secure, gain confidence in their Spanish.”
In room 66 of Leavenworth Hall, Floribeth Jimenez, instructor of the older group, makes the room come alive.
Sarina Plank and Kyra Elkhier were jumping out of their seats in a fierce competition of Spanish jeopardy created by Jimenez.
“I tell them you need to have food before a class because you need energy,” Jimenez said. “I try to make it fun because what is the point of being in a class where it’s like “learn this,” like military. No. I want them to enjoy.”
The children were learning vowels and pronunciation of words that started with “a.” “Amarillo” or “yellow” seemed to get confused with “anaranjado” or “orange.”
“They like a challenge.” Jimenez said. “For everything I teach, I reinforce them what is the origin, why we say the thing.”
The students smiled fondly as they spoke of their instructor.
“She’s very bright and cheery and she, she loves children,” Plank said.
“And she loves saying “chicas,”” Elkhier added.
“Muy bien, chicas,” Jimenez said with a slight laugh.
That translates to “very good, girls.”
For more information on the “Spanish Lessons for Children” program or the Spanish department and its activities, contact Ana Alexander or Delma Wood via e-mail.