Sunday, December 6, 2009

Ms. Murray's Spanish Program at LTES

Here's a submission by Tom Hamilton about Ms. Murray's Spanish Program.

Buenos Dias. Como esta usted? Bien, Gracias. So begins another class with Ms. Tanya Murray, head of the Spanish language program at Ludlow-Taylor Elementary School.

Ms. Murray was raised in Quebec, learning both English and French as she grew up. This was important, according to Ms. Murray. If you don’t learn a second language by the time you are five, the part of the brain dedicated to language-learning may never be fully developed. Because Ms. Murray was already fluent in two languages, she quickly became fluent in Spanish after she moved to Guatemala, where she lived for three years.

Ludlow-Taylor students receive their introduction to Spanish well before their fifth year. Pre-K and kindergarten students meet twice a week for half an hour. First through fifth graders meet once a week for forty-five minutes.

The Spanish language program is an integral part of the arts integration emphasis at Ludlow-Taylor. “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See?” is read – in Spanish, of course -- and acted out by the students in a unique dramatization. Spanish-themed art is produced and Spanish-themed music is performed by the students.

For each month Ms. Murray explores a different learning theme. Last October the theme was food. This month the theme is celebrations, e.g. Dia de los Muertos and Dia de Gracias. In April the theme will be the environment and in June the theme will be “what I like.” What most students will like is this rich and diverse Spanish adventure.

Learning Spanish aids in learning other subjects as well, according to Ms. Murray. The fact that Spanish is Latin-based means that the students will have a big assist in vocabulary development. And because teaching language requires addressing multiple learning styles, the students will be familiar with various approaches to learning.

Ms. Murray looked at a number of D.C. schools. She liked what she saw at Ludlow-Taylor; she liked the arts integration program and she liked the palpable, dynamic forward movement. She applied to Ludlow, interviewed with the principal, Ms. Carolyn Cobbs, and in short measure began to contribute to the overall success of this terrific neighborhood school.

When asked what support she would like to see from the community, Ms. Murray suggested first that neighbors simply come on over, attend open houses, get informed. And then maybe get involved, volunteer, share your skills and talents and avocations.


This article was written by Tom Hamilton

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