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Arts & Education: Missoula students learning Spanish in a unique way

Posted: 11:26 AM, May 16, 2019
Updated: 2019-05-16 13:26:34-04

MISSOULA – We headed over to Paxson Elementary School in this week’s Arts and Education to get a look at their unique ways of learning a second language.

A first grade class was learning Caribbean culture through dance when we stopped by.

“We are doing dance integration, we are talking about Salsa specifically and Caribbean culture. Then the students make up their own dance moves. I teach them dance moves they learn…and it is just a lot of fun,” SPARK! Arts dance teacher Jennifer Corbin said.

One of the neat things about Paxson, is they are a Spanish immersion school, which means, a good part of the day is spent speaking Spanish.

“As a Spanish immersion school, we actually do subject areas in Spanish. For instance, math in kindergarten, first grade and second grade is all taught in Spanish,” Paxson teacher Peter Halloran said.

“And so, a Spanish immersion school, the reason behind it, we learn a second language, but it is not like we sit down and say we are going to teach you Spanish,” he continued. “We will teach you what you need to know as a kindergartener, 1st and 2nd grader, but a lot of it will be taught in a second language.”

So, during this class, not only are these kids learning about Caribbean culture and dance.  They are learning a second language in Spanish at the same time.

“They always come back with the idea of teaching songs to students to help them learn numbers and help them learn vocabulary,” Halloran said.

“Because we know things stick a little better if it fits in a song and you can hum it to yourself and so you will see that in the younger grades. We have a Spanish teacher who has a piano, and they sing in Spanish every day and the students remember it, it sticks,” he concluded.