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Spanish for Native Speakers in North Carolina


Students in about 35 school districts in North Carolina have the option of taking a course called Spanish for Native Speakers, according to an article published yesterday in the Winston-Salem Journal. The students who enroll in the classes have been speaking Spanish all their lives, but many of them don't know the proper grammar for the language, according to the article. Many also have been speaking English all their lives, and one point of the classes is to help them become truly bilingual.

These kinds of courses have been around for a long time, but there's been surprisingly little support for them at the local, state, and federal levels, given the huge growth of the number of Hispanic students in the United States. I visited such classes in a New York City high school in 2003. What I learned by reading the Winston-Salem Journal article is that the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction received a federal grant in 2002 to develop a curriculum for Spanish for Native Speakers.

I just did a search on the North Carolina department's Web site and found a brochure offering a rationale for the courses and documents spelling out the "curriculum" for two different levels of Spanish for native speakers. Scroll down to the heading "Spanish for Native Speakers" at this link to find them.

I believe this statewide "curriculum" is very unusual. Some schools teach courses for native Spanish speakers using the Advanced Placement Spanish curriculum and tests, but those materials and tests are not created especially for native speakers. Since native speakers of Spanish in U.S. schools often are fluent speakers but don't know how to read and write well in the language, the AP materials may not stress the skills that they need the most help with.

The North Carolina curriculum reads to me more like a set of academic standards than a curriculum. It lists various "competencies" and ways to teach them rather than providing specific teaching materials or lesson plans. Still I think the documents would be helpful in providing a framework for the classes in any state. Visit the Center for Applied Linguistics Web site to learn more about materials available for native speakers of Spanish.

In this blog item, by the way, I'm trying to honor my promise to readers to write about "learning innovations" as well as educational policy. From where I sit, I seem to learn more about policy news than learning innovations.


For a truly effective innovation in tools for English learners, check out Imgagine Learning English. Now with thousands of students in hundreds of schools across the country using this carefully crafted, easy-to-use program, fun program, data show conclusive gains across the board in vocabulary, listening and speaking, and literacy skills. Take a look!

Not connected with this specific post, but I thought you'd be interested in this story the Sacramento Bee just ran about our school's Family Literacy Project of providing home computers and DSL service to immigrant families:


I am a new teacher in North Carolina and I am teaching two classes of Spanish for Native Speakers-I. My mentor doesn't have any experience in teaching these classes. I can't really use or implement the lesson plans I have, because I have students who can't read or write in Spanish. Some students don't even respond to me in Spanish when I speak to them in Spanish. I am struggling to figure out how I can evalute the levels of spanish for each of my students, and how to enforce the communication of Spanish in my class. It could be possible that some of my students may not be totally honest with me about their abilities in the Spanish language. The book that I use for these classes is completely in spanish, so I don't know how I can use the lesson plans that I have or how I can assign work to the students. I had also heard that students are not evaluated on their skill level in Spanish before entering the class. They are basically just placed there. I have been trying to come up with new ideas for the class and research activities. I want to encourage group work in my class, but individual work will eventually have to be evaluated to assess the individual student's progress. I'm trying to collaborate with other teachers in my county to find out how to combat this problem. Any feedback on this is extremely helpful

I want to get information about the centers where you can work as Spanish professor/teacher for Spanish speakers. I want to develop ONLY this skill, based on my experience at University for many years. Please send me information. JOSE BORREGUERO.

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