comment 1

add.a.lingua immersion and love for Puerto Rico: increasing student cultural awareness

One of my greatest joys is the opportunity I have to talk with administrators, point people, and teachers about what matters to them in their add.a.lingua immersion programs.

Our conversations cover the intricacies of the add.a.lingua frameworks, discussing how current decisions in the program impact the overall implementation of its design, and most frequently (and my favorite) conversing about student learning.

measuring increased cultural awareness in add.a.lingua immersion

Student learning in add.a.lingua immersion programs manifests itself in a wide variety of ways, although each is connected to one of the three goals of immersion education:

  1. academic achievement
  2. high levels of proficiency in both the immersion language and English
  3. increased cultural awareness and sensitivity

Recently, Militza Mendoza, point person and third grade teacher at Covenant Christian School in Mishawaka, IN shared a story during an add.a.lingua office hour that relates beautifully to that often difficult-to-measure third goal from the list above. Her students and their families went above and beyond to illustrate the level of awareness, care and sensitivity that learning Spanish has helped create.

Screen Shot 2018-01-12 at 9.49.27 AM

Militza Mendoza in her classroom of third graders.

On September 20, hurricane María wrought havoc on the island of Puerto Rico, Militza Mendoza’s homeland. The fear of the hurricane itself was surpassed by the fear of the aftermath in the days after the storm. Militza feared her family was in danger or had been harmed.

Covenant Christian School pulls together for Puerto Rico

Concerns grew when all communication severed between the island and the U.S. mainland for weeks after the storm. That was when her classroom of students, and the Covenant Christian community stepped in to offer support to the teacher and point person they care so deeply about, and in turn, to the island of Puerto Rico.

Her students began writing letters of love and encouragement. Check out what they had to say.

Letter to Puerto Rico from JustinDear Puerto Rican friends,

Hi, my name is Justin and I live in Indiana. Do you want to know how I know how to speak Spanish? It’s because my teacher is Puerto Rican and she’s teaching me Puerto Rican Spanish. I’m writing this letter because I know that you guys are passing through a tough time and I want to send you strength. I don’t know you, but I know that you’re great and I wrote a song for you and your family. It’s like Despacito, but different and I’m going to send it with this paper. If you know my teacher, Militza Mendoza, she’s the best in the world and she’s Puerto Rican. She says that we should write letters so that kids who are feeling sad know that God is with them.

Sincerely,
Justin from Covenant Christian

Letter 2 to Puerto Rico

Dear Puerto Rican students,

Hi, my name is Juliana Belcher and I want to help Puerto Rico. I want to help so much that I’ve written a song. I’ve visited Puerto Rico before the hurricane and I want for it to look as beautiful as it did before [the storm]. So, I gave money for Puerto Rico and I’m going to have a concert and people will give lots of things for Puerto Rico not only for kids but also teachers. I feel for you.

This is just a pair of the heart filled letters sent to Puerto Rico by Covenant Christian’s add.a.lingua immersion program students.

As their initiative gained momentum, the families wanted to do even more than write student drawing of a heart for Puerto Rican students impacted by hurricanes.letters. They planned, ideated, and responded to the need by donating pallets of goods to the people on the island.

Check out the news link below to see the impact that Militza Mendoza’s students and their greater school community have had (8 tons of supplies!). And to think…the students are able to express themselves so clearly, so eloquently and so passionately in the language spoken by the heart of the recipients. That, we know, makes it mean even more upon arrival.

Mishawaka students send truck load of supplies to Puerto Rico

8 tons of supplies sent to Puerto Rico

learning Spanish increases student cultural awareness and sensitivity

It’s more challenging to measure one’s cultural sensitivity than, perhaps, academic achievement or language skills. But, we’d dare to say that the connections these students are making using language as the engine to inspire action is a definite example of success toward that third goal.

Filed under: educators, Spanish Immersion

About the Author

Posted by

Stephanie Irizarry holds undergraduate ​teacher certification in Spanish and Elementary Education, an M.Ed in Literacy Studies with emphasis in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL),​ as well as an additional M.Ed. in Interdisciplinary Studies with Certification in Dual Language and Immersion Education from the University of Minnesota. Her broad teaching experiences in dual language immersion programs and​ in​ English learner contexts provide her with deep insight into the needs of new and existing dual language immersion programs.​ Co-author of the publication Lending Student Voice to Latino ELL Migrant Children's Perspectives on Learning (2013), she knows that students increasingly take ownership of their education when their voices are honored and expectations are held high. Stephanie is the proud mom of two boys and is thrilled that they'll know the joy of learning in high quality dual language immersion environments as they grow. She enjoys spending time with her husband and children, travel, latin dancing, and reading in Spanish.

1 Comment so far

  1. Pingback: Language Immersion increases Student Cultural Awareness | Covenant Christian School

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.