Spanish is our most popular language program at MPA. We begin Spanish lessons in preschool, alongside French and Mandarin, and continue exploratory classes through 4th grade. In 5th grade, students can choose between Spanish, French or Mandarin for full-time study and continue their language of choice through the rest of their education at the Academy. Our teachers, Señora Ortiz, Señora Harris, and I – Profe Camastro – love sharing our experience with the Spanish language and Hispanic culture with our students. In exploratory classes, our program emphasizes basic skills and vocabulary through dance, song, rhyme and movement. In our full-year program, teachers help students develop reading and writing skills, as well as build conversational and cultural competency. In addition to local field trips to the Pilsen and Hermosa neighborhoods, we also offer Project Week trips abroad (in the Middle and Upper School), to countries including Costa Rica, Peru, and Spain so that students have an opportunity to speak and hear Spanish from native speakers.
It should come as no surprise that Spanish as a second language has exploded in popularity not only at MPA but also throughout the United States. An estimated 7.8 million people are currently learning Spanish in the US. Increasing immigration to the US from Hispanic countries has made our nation the second-largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, ahead of even Spain! By 2050, it is projected that there will be 138 million Spanish-speakers in the US – a third of the population. Professional opportunities for use of Spanish are boundless; medicine, business, law enforcement, education, social work are just some of the fields where bilingual candidates are in constant demand.
Of course, proficiency in Spanish is also a key skill outside of the United States. It’s the official language of 20 countries around the world, and a second language to millions of people outside of those countries. Latin America has some of the world’s most important emerging economies, including Mexico and Chile. Additionally, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Spain are all in the top 10 destinations for Americans traveling abroad.
As Spanish teachers, we are happy to teach students who chose our language for “practical” reasons. Spanish is undoubtedly a top choice for students hoping to improve their job prospects and further their career ambitions by becoming bilingual. However, we try to share with students the intrinsic beauty of the language and its rich cultural and historical connections. From Argentinian tango to Spanish tapas to Mexican fiestas, we want students to know that the Hispanic culture has so much more to offer them than a bullet point on their job application.
Sources and further reading: