Spanish I: Introduction of the Modern Language Track
“Donde hay gana, hay maña” is a well-known proverb in the Spanish-speaking community. It most closely resembles the English saying: where there’s a will, there’s a way. To Mr. Gildersleeve, this proverb is particularly befitting for language acquisition. “To learn a language – to truly gain fluency,” he asserts, “it’s important you learn to love the language, first.”
Mr. Gildersleeve, new to JH Classical Academy this year, teaches Spanish I to the 11th grade. In Spanish I, students learn the foundations of speaking, listening, and writing in Spanish. They’re encouraged, too, to embrace Spanish’s direct application in the world around them.
Mr. Gildersleeve states: “What makes Spanish so exciting is its immediacy. Step outside here in Jackson and listen: you will hear Spanish. In the United States – and Jackson, included – Spanish is a nearly ubiquitous language.”
Spanish I classwork centers on the building blocks of sound vocabulary and grammar, while projects and field trips foster student engagement with the valley’s Spanish-speaking population. Through a dynamic course of study, students express themselves with increasing confidence and aptitude as the year progresses, and further, gain a deep appreciation for the histories and cultures tied to the Spanish language.
The introduction of Spanish I to the Upper School curriculum marks the start of JH Classical Academy’s Modern Language Track. With the Modern Language Track, Upper school students have the option to fulfill their language requirements by studying Spanish or advanced Latin.
Given Academy students’ extensive Latin background, Mr. Gildersleeve ties Spanish to its ancient ancestor as much as possible. “Our students frequently recognize Spanish’s many derivations from Latin,” Mr. Gildersleeve affirms. “In fact, we started the year with Spanish and Latin cognates (the related words between languages). The students were surprised to discover how much Spanish they knew already.”
According to Mr. Gildersleeve, love for language blossoms when one recognizes not only that its acquisition is possible, but that its acquisition leads to new and rich human experiences. Indeed, as one language proverb of old tells, “To learn a language is to live again.” Mr. Gildersleeve would agree, for he states: “Language is one of the lenses through which we perceive and respond to the world around us. And sometimes, our unique and varied experiences simply don’t have direct translations.”
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