MHS Musings: Spanish Students to Get Bilingual Experience
Spanish students will have opportunity to experience a Spanish exchange program next year.
MHS Spanish language students were introduced last week to Javier Blázquez Francés, a high school teacher from Madrid, Spain, who gave them a glimpse into a language immersion program planned for next year.
Señor Blázquez and the MHS Spanish faculty (Mario Azcarraga, Viviana Canizales, Lauren Hartmann, Gislene Hernando, Ken Rizzuti, Maria Vazquez, Mae Ward, and Dept. Chair Abigail Crespo) are teaming up as part of a brand-new program, where MHS students would have the opportunity to travel to Spain, spend two weeks there, and meet Spanish peers who would spend time with them later in the year, back in the United States.
Blázquez stressed the importance of this program for students in both Millburn and Gredos San Diego (the high school in Madrid). He said he is “very interested in getting students to be bilingual… Millburn students can improve their Spanish, while [our] students would improve their English."
The MHS Spanish instructors are also pleased to get this program started.
"After many years of requesting support from administration, we are thrilled that Dr. Crisfield and Dr. Burton recognize the value of such an exchange and are supporting the MHS World Languages Department in this effort," Crespo said.
This program should not be confused with a vacation to Madrid. Instead of staying at a hotel and seeing Spain through the eyes of a tourist, students will live with Spanish-speaking students and their families in Madrid. They’ll attend class with their new Spanish friends in the mornings, and spend the afternoons and weekends immersed in the Spanish culture - visiting downtown Madrid, Real Madrid’s fútbol [soccer] stadium and the nearby cities of Toledo and Salamanca, among other attractions.
Blázquez said, “It’s a good opportunity to improve the language while learning how Spanish people live their everyday lives with their families.” It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, he said.
The program officially will start in September 2012, with students using the new World Languages Computer Lab to communicate with their assigned students from Gredos San Diego, through Skype, Google Chat, and the like.
Interested students at MHS taking Spanish at level 4, 5, 6, or AP could spend two weeks in Madrid, but only miss three or four school days because of the school vacation, in February 2013.
Their Spanish friends would come spend time here in Millburn toward the end of May 2013, and learn how we live our everyday lives. Blázquez pointed out distinct differences between high schools in Spain and in the US. In America, students move from class to class, but in Spain, the teachers are the ones that switch between groups of students that stay together the entire day. There are also swimming pools in most Spanish high schools, and physical education classes often are held in the pool.
Canizales and Vazquez will chaperone the trip, but students will be given a great deal of freedom while they are with their host families.
Blázquez said he hopes that after the program, each participating student in Millburn creates “a relationship to last forever” with his or her Spanish friend - “serán amigos por toda vida.”
After MHS Spanish students attended the presentation, it was clear that many will take advantage of the opportunity to experience a different continent, a different language and a different lifestyle.
Have a question about the new program? Contact Dept. Chair Abigail Crespo at email@example.com