Photo by Paul Quackenbush
On a Friday in March, freshmen at Fort Vancouver High School Center for International Studies unpacked Julio Cortázar’s “Continuidad de los parques,” a difficult text filled with metaphors and a twist ending. After reading the story, the students created drawings and skits to summarize the major themes and presented their work to their classmates.
The class is a pre-AP Spanish seminar taught entirely in Spanish, a language these students have been studying for years through the Spanish Language Learning Program and Spanish/English Dual Language Program. Now they are part of the new Spanish Language Pathway, which brings students in both programs together at Fort, where they’ll continue to take advanced courses and develop translation and interpretation skills throughout their high school experience. The program aligns well with the school’s focus on advancing students’ global awareness and competence.
“It’s been really fun to explore those opportunities with kids who have such a strong base already in the language,” said teacher Kailey Sears, who teaches the seminar.
She added, “We can use the language to do things like this, look at a famous piece of literature in the Spanish-speaking world and analyze it, evaluate it, visualize it and create our own thoughts and ideas around it.”
Projects also included researching Spanish-speaking countries, calculating exchange rates and planning possible itineraries for visits. Conversing in Spanish with AP Spanish students boosted their skills, too. “Being in the program gives me more practice,” said Christopher Rivera Garcia.
Esmeralda Gonzales Barajas sees her Spanish fluency as a way to educate friends in matters of language and culture, introducing them to things such as a type of sweet bread called conchas. “They’re able to learn from us, and we’re able to learn from them,” she said.
Gonzales Barajas and Rivera Garcia anticipate that their bilingualism will serve them well upon entering the workforce, respectively, as a business owner or medical assistant and an anesthesiologist. “When I grow up, I’m more employable. I can get a better job since I know two languages,” said Rivera Garcia.
Added Gonzales Barajas, “Being able to speak both languages is a good thing.”
Fort Vancouver High School Center for International Studies
Years with VPS: 2
A few things I’ve learned: Each year I continue to learn how important it is to develop strong relationships with my students and to buy into what I’m teaching. I’m fortunate to work with some really wonderful students at Fort, and they are willing to join me in my excitement over developing language skills.
Three words that describe me: Enthusiastic, confident, social.
When I’m not working: I spend as many of my non-working hours as possible outside. I love running, hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing, paddle-boarding and snowboarding. When I have longer breaks, I try to travel around the U.S. and internationally.