Head Starters get dose of Spanish

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 21, 1999

Staff Writer

Some Troy children are getting a head start on foreign language skills by learning Spanish as part of their prekindergarten curriculum.

Children at Head Start learn Spanish words every Friday with the help of students from Charles Henderson High School. Under the direction of CHHS Teacher Pamela Merkel, upper level Spanish students visit Head Start to provide weekly lessons.

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Each Friday, the high schoolers teach 30 minute lessons involving two activities, said Latofia Patterson, who is one of the Spanish speaking students. This Friday, the children learned Spanish words for foods they may eat at Thanksgiving, including corn and turkey. They colored a turkey or "El Pavo," saying the name of the color in Spanish before they could use the crayon.

Head Start Students Summer Jones said she learned the Spanish words for turkey, chicken and grits at school Friday.

Some educators believe it is easier for children to learn foreign languages early in life instead of the more traditional high school years.

"This lets our students learn other skills and realize they may want to enter a bilingual field when they grow up," said Head Start Teacher Carolyn Scafia. "They enjoy the students coming on Fridays."

Angela Jones, who is one of the Spanish speaking students, said the program helps her to learn new vocabulary too, because lessons sometimes cover words she does not often use.

She said she plans to study premedicine at Troy State University next fall and would like to get a job where she can use her Spanish.

"This is a good opportunity for us to experience service learning," she said. "It is a way we can share the things we’ve learned and give back to the community.

"I also enjoy playing with the kids."