Foreign language teachers work to balance the curriculum for bilingual students
Within the past ten years, language immersion schools have been growing, becoming more popular, and expanding to different languages. Benilde- St. Margaret’s is home to a number of bilingual students who are either from one of the various language immersion schools in the area or have grown up speaking a second language at home.
Bilingual Spanish speaking students have a variety of classes to choose from when coming to BSM, with a few classes directed towards fluent speakers. “Depending on when they start at BSM, usually the first one students take is the Español Hablantes I, then they’ll take the second Español Hablantes class and move onto Spanish four,” said Spanish teacher Mr. Groebner.
High school Spanish teachers face a major challenge trying to balance teaching bilingual student with those students who aren’t as experienced with a language. While bilingual students can read and speak the language much more accurately, they have trouble with the grammar and spelling, and students who aren’t fluent pick up on the grammar much faster. “This is my first year that I’ve encountered this, and it’s a very challenging situation. I still haven’t found a perfect way to deal with it, but one thing that I’ve tried is trying to help the bilingual students outside of class, because they can learn it in a way that makes sense to them,” said Mr. Groebner.
Knowing a second language is important, but fully understanding the grammar isn’t always necessary unless pursuing a career. “If you want to productively use it in life, you really need to know both well. If you’re just using your Spanish for leisure reasons, than knowing how to speak it is more important than knowing the grammar rules. You have more opportunities, and there is more of a need to use spoken Spanish on a daily basis,” said Mr. Groebner.
Even if bilingual students aren’t planning on pursuing a career in their language, teachers suggest that students continue their education with their chosen language. “I think that the bilingual students should take Spanish classes all four years and take Español Hablantes and move forward with it because they can continue to gain skills and knowledge with these classes,” said Mr. Groebner.