The student online newsmagazine of SHS

The Journal Rewired

The student online newsmagazine of SHS

The Journal Rewired

The student online newsmagazine of SHS

The Journal Rewired

    Spanish teacher Jamie Marshall explains lesson to her Spanish heritage speakers on March 3. The course was approved the second semester of this school year. photo by Lily Zing

    Beyond bilingual

    SHS pioneers path for Spanish heritage speakers

    Spanish teacher Jamie Marshall wanted to find a way to give native Spanish speakers an education tailored to them. That’s when she heard about a class at Perry Meridian High School that could do just that, a class for heritage speakers.

    “My goal and mission were to have a Spanish class for our native speakers that provided greater enrichment for them to develop their own language skills,” Marshall said.

    Marshall found that the class allowed for a deeper understanding and learning in students who took the class, allowing them to focus on building their Spanish skills.

    In her Spanish III classes, Marshall began noticing that students who grew up speaking the language would become bored in her classes.

    “They would get through the class activity and the additional activity that I had for them, often before the non native speakers,” Marshall said.

    In addition, non-native speakers would often feel too intimidated to speak Spanish for fear of getting it wrong, and native speakers felt they had to simplify their Spanish to communicate.

    “It was not seeming to be a good fit for anyone,” Marshall said. “It was very difficult to meet the needs of all the students in the room.”

    The new Spanish class is similar to the Spanish III class, but the curriculum is tailored a little differently.

    One of the ways Marshall alters the class is she will introduce grammar differently than her other Spanish classes. She creates activities to see where the students’ Spanish skills are and meet them where they are rather than assuming they know nothing and starting at the very beginning.

    “They felt as though they could improve their own personal Spanish skills at a greater level (and) more appropriate pace,” Marshall said.

    Junior Yordi Valois-Torres has felt more comfortable speaking and learning in the environment of the Heritage Speakers class.

    “The environment is much better, and I can understand everything better,” Valois-Torres said.

    Marshall noticed that not all students who can speak the language well are good at writing it. She has seen a big improvement when it comes to the students’ writing abilities since starting the class. 

    My goal and mission were to have a Spanish class for our native speakers that provided greater enrichment for them to develop their own language skills.”

    — Spanish teacher Jamie Marshall

    Engagement and excitement have already been on the rise in Marshall’s new class. Students are now able to have deeper conversations with their peers and improve their Spanish-speaking skills further.

    “It just seems to be more enriching, more engaging and more enjoyable for them so far,” Marshall said.

    Senior Esbeydi Montes is one of the students taking the class and has already been improving her Spanish skills and getting a deeper understanding of her heritage.

    “It’s been very eye opening,” Montes said. “We’ve been able to get more work done at a fast pace while also learning things that we’ve never known before about our own countries.”

    Marshall plans to continue and expand on the class by having three levels of Heritage Speakers Spanish classes. 

    She has a very hopeful outlook for the future and growth of the class. The immense sense of community that’s already built in the class has already been a big improvement.

    “These students can continue to learn about and study the language they’ve grown up speaking together in a room where that is really truly celebrated,” Marshall said.

    To read a story about high school Spanish learners empowering young minds at elementary schools, click here.

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    About the Contributor
    Elisabeth Pointer
    Elisabeth Pointer, Culture Reporter
    Hi! I’m Elisabeth Pointer. I’m a junior, and this is my second year writing for culture. I never took a journalism class, but after learning about journalistic writing and how to do it, I have really started to love it. I’m a competitive gymnast and have been doing gymnastics for over 10 years. I also coach little kids at my gym to help them with their gymnastics career. I really like animated shows such as “Steven Universe” and “Gravity Falls.” My favorite color is purple, and my favorite animal is a seal. A close second place would be cats. I have a cat named Sassy and a dog named Blair. I have a little brother named Gabe who is in eighth grade. I’m very passionate about school, and my GPA and grades are some of my biggest achievements. I eventually want to major in plant biology and/or molecular genetics. My dream is to become a genetic engineer and to work on creating new medicines in the future.

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