What Keeps Language Learners Going?

Y colorín, colorado, este cuento se ha acabado… That is a wrap on the 2021-2022 school year! What a special one it has been!

I started learning Spanish from absolute zero at 13 years old. I often reflect on my own language journey from novice learner to fluent speaker. The road has been filled with incredible people, places, challenges, triumphs, and naturally, a fair share of embarrassing moments. And I’m still not done learning!

The question is, what keeps language learners going? What separates those who “forget everything” they learned in school to those who pursue it with their full heart for life? How can we inspire this kind of life-long learning in our MBTS students?

This is a question that will always inform my instruction and determine the focus of our lessons. Below I talk about my two favorite (and most accessible) ways that we can instill this vision within our children inside and out of the classroom. See how you can apply these themes with your child(ren) this summer break.

Music: Music is everything in the language classroom. We use songs for greetings and goodbyes as well as for individual vocabulary topics like colors, numbers, and the calendar. This allows students to acquire entire language chunks, master pronunciation, and feel confident in their speaking ability. In the Upper levels we listen to songs in the target language by artists from around the world. Some of our favorites include Camilo (Colombia), Vicente Garcia (Dominican Republic), and even Buena Vista Social Club (Cuba). It allows us to feel connected to the Spanish-speaking world just outside our door.

*At home, find Spanish language playlists on Spotify or YouTube to play during the day while cleaning, cooking, or exercising. Children benefit greatly from the sound exposure even if they do not know what the words mean at first.

Food: This year Upper Elementary had the opportunity to try food from Colombia, thanks to Spoons, a Colombian restaurant on island.

*This summer, try cooking a new meal with your family from a different country. You could also try a new restaurant in Cayman, like Spoons, Cuba Libre, Latin Taste, or the Arepa food truck by Cost U Less. By going to these places, you will also be building community connections. Students can practice simple words such as greetings and manners (Por favor, gracias). They will build their confidence little by little and see the direct application of their Spanish language skills.

Buena suerte, good luck, and have a great summer!

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