It’s four o’ clock on a Tuesday afternoon, and children are giggling and spilling out into the hallways in the basement of Castleton’s Leavenworth Hall. A Spanish professor from the college is playing a dice game with kids. “Seis brazos” she says, which is quickly followed by a choir of children’s voices echoing it back to her.
She then tells them that the translation is “six arms.” The kids laugh about how their creature will look like a spider of sorts.
Children from the surrounding community have been coming to Castleton to take Spanish lessons — free of charge. The program that just started this semester has been in the works for some time. The Spanish department believes that the program is beneficial for the children as well as the college students.
“I expect the community children will learn the language, be interested in the cultures, and hopefully they’ll want more of this,” Spanish department coordinator Ana Alexander said. “Our students will be gaining experience as teachers.”
The elementary school children have been coming for lessons on Tuesday afternoons since the beginning of the semester. The idea started last fall and has been moving towards starting this September.
“The Spanish Lessons for Children” program started off small, but have been growing from Castleton Elementary and Fair Haven to reach an even bigger audience that also includes Poultney and Rutland.
The instructor of the program is Floribeth Jimenez. Jimenez is a Spanish education major being mentored by Claudio Eduardo Pinto. The program is completely free and offered to any child who has the ability to speak.
The public school systems in the area do not offer any Spanish-speaking curriculum for elementary school children. Ana Alexander, Claudio Eduardo Pinto, and the rest of the Spanish Department at Castleton State College decided to collaborate their efforts energies and time into a program that educates children how to speak a second language.
“They do not learn as adults do,” Alexander said, adding that other methods are implemented such as games using balls, dices, and drawing in order to teach the children.
“The faculty, students and children will benefit,” she said.
The kids are as young as 4 and-a-half and go up to age 9. Shakti Parker, a 9 year-old stood outside of the communication/Spanish lounge to count to ten, hoping to show that she could count in Spanish.
To become an active part of this program or if you have any interest in the Spanish department or club please contact Ana Alexander via e-mail. The Spanish club also hosts meetings every Thursday in the Spanish/ communications lounge in Leavenworth Hall during N-period from 12:30 – 1:45 p.m.