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Spanish for Teachers

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At Aurora Public Schools in Colorado, 700 teachers and staff are taking an online course in Spanish this fall so they can communicate better with the school district's Spanish-speaking parents.

Jose C. Paz, a translator for the district, who arranged for the classes, said district officials don't expect educators at the beginning stages of studying Spanish to learn much more than pleasantries in the course, which is designed for teachers and requires about 16 hours of seat time. But even that can help teachers to be more comfortable with Spanish-speaking parents, he said.

He noted that the lessons are designed to adapt to the learning curve of the student. They contain some intermediate-level lessons as well as beginning lessons. The lessons also contain cultural information. Half of the district's 32,500 students are Hispanic, and 39 percent of the district's students are English-language learners.

"We teach the basic words and phrases for situations such as: parent/teacher conferences, a sick child, discipline issues, and much more," Philipp Knetemann, the owner of My Spanish Teacher, the company offering the online Spanish classes, explained to me in an e-mail message.

You can try out a few free sample lessons online.

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Kudos for supporting the teachers and kids. W. Aurora SD is using The Parent/Teacher Kon-ver-SAY-shun Kit to help teachers improve parent involvement with Spanish-speaking families. The more help for busy educators, the better.

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