Donors Choose Spanish 12 Classes
Mercy Peña is dogged in her determination to provide the best classroom education and experience for her students as she can. So the Huntington High School foreign language teacher logged onto Donors Choose when she wanted to purchase a set of books for her Spanish 12 classes and couldn't fund them through the regular district budget.
Teachers from across the country routinely post on Donors Choose a description of their program needs that require outside funding. In essence, the descriptions are designed to "sell" the proposal to donors and entice them to choose the applicant's project for funding.
Five donors contributed a total of $696 to fully fund Ms. Peña's request. "Humorous Spanish tales will motivate foreign language students to read in their target language," the teacher said. "Making reading in the foreign language enjoyable will encourage faster and better language acquisition. Today's market is looking for people who know at least two languages, so we need to start now!"
Ms. Peña said her twelfth grade classes "are average students and most of them want to go to college. They know that Spanish is the key to better job opportunities when they graduate from college, so they are excited about having a head start in high school. They read fun stories in Spanish, role-play the characters and scenes, talk about what they have read and connect it to personal experiences. Then they write their own stories and share them with the class."
During the spring months, the teacher's students will "create their own children's books and read their stories to the elementary school," she said. The new set of books will have illustrations and be fun to read.
"The [new] set is Cuentos Simpaticos for intermediate students," Ms. Peña said. "They are funny stories in Spanish that would make reading in the target language enjoyable. There are comprehension questions and language activities that go with each story."
The veteran teacher believes the stories "will be springboards for many language activities, such as oral discussions, dramatization, and writing on related experiences. In order to maintain an interest in the new language, it is important to have dynamic activities in place. In order to make reading pleasurable, it is necessary to choose the right books."
Ms. Peña points to research that shows that reading something of interest encourages additional reading. "In a foreign language class, when students read, they are not only learning how to read in the target language, they are also learning culture, vocabulary, grammar and writing. It is essential that students read books they like because in this way, they will be unconsciously absorbing the target language, and will take more risks by using it in the classroom, as well as in the real world."