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P.A.W.S. introduces students to Spanish language

RCS’ summer program has set out to involve students in a variety of activities to stave off the summer blues, from hip hop, to visual art, to STEM projects, to bowling – to foreign language.

Pedro Francisco, who in the 2016-2017 school year served as an EL aide for Russellville City Schools teaching English to non-English proficient students, was given the opportunity to change it up a little bit. For the past several weeks he has been teaching the building blocks of the Spanish language to children in the summer program.

“They figured they could use me in the program just as a male role model, which I was very excited about, but then they also asked me if I would be willing to teach Spanish,” Francisco said. “And I said sure. I thought it was a great idea.”

Once a week Francisco takes a grade level at a time and works on Spanish basics, like letters, numbers and limited vocabulary. In the lower grades, particularly, Francisco said children are still developing English language skills, so he has kept his instruction at a manageable level for young learners.

“Some of them catch on very quickly,” Francisco said. He said while some of the older children in the summer program haven’t enjoyed the classes, finding them too much like what’s required during a regular school day, the younger children in particular have been eager learners.

Francisco said he wants to encourage a greater intercultural aspect in the classroom. “You have students who maybe are not immigrants – maybe they are first generation Americans – but their heritage is maybe Guatemalan or Mexican or somewhere,” he said. “I think it’s just important for the students to be able to understand that in this society they need to be able to interconnect with other people of different backgrounds.

“I’m just very grateful for the opportunity to be able to work with the children and share this part of my heritage with them. It’s something I’m very proud of and enjoy being able to teach.”