Day of the Dead Mask

Day of the Dead Altar

The St. John Spanish program serves students in grades K-8. Two teachers support the program. Mr. Paul Kelley is our Middle School Spanish teacher.  “Pablo” has studied Spanish in both Argentina and Spain. Señora Blanca, from Perú, teaches students in grades K-5th. Together they bring over 20 years of Spanish teaching experience to the classroom.

The Spanish program is based on an interactive curriculum using the “Natural Approach” and “Total Physical Response (TPR).”

The “Natural Approach” helps foster spontaneous communication among students and instructors and attempts to parallel the manner in which children learn their first language.

TPR, as the name indicates, involves a physical response to a command or direction.  This technique helps students learn vocabulary and other concepts of second language acquisition.

To supplement these strategies we strive to find relevant cultural activities to add spice and flavor to the average class day.  For example, fourth and fifth grade students spend a unit studying Mexico’s Day of the Dead.  As a culmination, we celebrate our own Dia De los Muertos, complete with decorated altars, costumes, and a lively fiesta.

As much as possible, teachers try to integrate Spanish into other subject areas. Students learn songs in Spanish that are sung regularly at school liturgies.  Students learn basic Catholic prayers in Spanish to be used in liturgies. Classes use technology to communicate with amigos in Peru and to prepare presentations about Spanish speaking countries.

Our sister relationship with San Miguel Parish and La Inmaculada School in Peru provide our students with authentic cultural exchanges. During the 2008 school year, St. John School hosted a Spanish teacher from the sister school for six months. Recently, in April of 2009, St. John students and parishioners traveled to Peru as part of a Parish Delegation.

Spanish K-5

Spanish is taught in grades K-2 once a week for thirty minutes.  Students in grades 3-5 participate in sixty minutes of Spanish class per week (two thirty minute sessions).

Spanish 6-8

Junior high students study Spanish for one complete trimester (forty-five minute classes five days per week for twelve weeks).  Junior high students make progress quickly as they practice Spanish on a daily basis. In addition to language instruction, time is spent studying the culture and customs of South America, Central America, and Spain.

Graduates of the St. John Spanish program are competent in basic Spanish communication and in some cases are prepared to enter level II Spanish in high school.  More importantly, our graduates are aware of the many dimensions that make up the web of culture and community.