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Spanish Club Members Volunteer in Immersion School
Students find connection and a chance to share their love of language and culture.
Today’s students are busier than ever, yet the members of the UMD Spanish Club (el Club de Español) are still making time to volunteer in our community. Professors Jennifer Brady and Milagros Gómez, who serve as Faculty Advisors to the Spanish Club, have been impressed with the dedication of Spanish students here at UMD. Since September 2017, students from el Club de Español have spent time volunteering at the Nueva Visión Spanish Immersion Program at Lowell Elementary. With two classes of Kindergarten and two classes of first grade, volunteering in these classrooms has been a great way to make strong connections with children, teachers, and families that are passionate about the Spanish language and Hispanic/Spanish culture. In the fall and spring semesters of the 2017-2018 school year, just under 25 Spanish Club members have volunteered at Nueva Visión, and they all find it to be a positive and rewarding experience.
In an immersion classroom, students follow a similar curriculum to those in English-speaking classrooms, but cover all the material in Spanish. This way, the students learn all the important life skills taught in elementary school in addition to another language. For Kellsey Clark, being in a Spanish immersion setting has helped her develop her language skills as much as it has helped the Kindergarten and first graders: “Volunteering at Lowell has helped me improve my Spanish fluency by forcing me to speak the language in the classroom”. Some fundamental advantages of studying a second language listed on the Nueva Visión website include “cognitive benefits, gains in academic achievement, and positive attitudes toward diversity”.
Anna Casperson, a senior at UMD and a member of el Club de Español executive board says, “This experience has undoubtedly enhanced my Spanish-speaking abilities… It's great to be able to apply the skills and language that I learn in class in a real life setting”. Many times, the best way to learn is by teaching; volunteers have many opportunities in the classroom to teach and learn right alongside the younger students while playing math games, reading books, and singing songs in Spanish. For UMD students, these skills can transfer over to their own Spanish courses and even to the use of another language in their future careers.
All members of Club de Español at UMD are proud and excited about the impact we have already made in the community in just our first year of being a club; we are looking forward to what next year brings! In addition to many club members enjoying their volunteer work at Lowell Elementary, el Club de Español offers other fun Spanish speaking events for students at all proficiency levels of the language. Join us at our upcoming events to enjoy fellowship with Spanish-loving students and learn how to get involved.
More from volunteers del Club de Español:
"I really love helping the Nueva Vision Spanish Program at Lowell. As a kid who attended a Spanish immersion elementary school it feels great to work with a school that is providing the same opportunity to the local area. The kids are super smart and I am grateful I get to spend time practicing Spanish in a such an amazing environment."
“I really enjoy snack time with the kids! Although this seems like it would be an unstructured activity, this freedom allows the children to express what they are thinking in a very open way. For example, snack time is actually when I hear the kids use the Spanish language the most!”
“Lowell is a perfect fit for me because I love working with kids and I love speaking Spanish!”
To keep up with the activities of the Club de Español, follow us on Facebook at UMD Club de Español
Pictured above: Dayle Hedin, Abbygail Coyle, Rachel Gydesen, Bailey Olson, Sabrina Salmela
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