Project Learning to Read in Spanish

BY Carla Cafarella

Old Rochester Regional Junior High School

Project Description
I am an enthusiastic student of language acquisition. We know that today’s young learners acquire language more effectively when they are able to USE the language in context. We know that reading high-frequency words repeatedly in context is a powerful learning tool. My goal is to expand a classroom library of Spanish novels. Being read to and reading independently are the strongest predictors of language acquisition. Soon my students will start reading their first beginner novel. Shortly after this project, I will implement regular, independent weekly reading. Students will be strongly encouraged to reach for a new novel each time they finish one. The feeling of accomplishment after reading a novel in another language is EXTRAORDINARY!

How will the project be evaluated (e.g. how will you gauge its success)
My students will go on to study at the high school and this learning ultimately impacts the preparedness of students completing AP Spanish classes. Research strongly supports the benefits of reading in second language acquisition.

Benefit to the students and the school
Last year I was able to purchase my first class set of beginner novels for my students. After my students read TWO class novels, I implemented regular quiet, independent reading time. I was so excited to overhear students cheering one day when I announced that we would have quiet reading time. They have come to look forward to the silly and engaging chapter books we read. Before too long, students started reading on their own. The impact on student learning is incredible! I constantly observe students using vocabulary that I didn’t know they knew. I often ask them where they learned certain Spanish expressions that they use in conversation and in their writing, and inevitably students report that they pick up so much of their Spanish from the novels they read. The learning is so customized and so exciting!

Timeline of Project (when will you do the project, if applicable)
In the fall of 2019 students will start their first chapter book. In the winter of 2020, students will begin their second novel after grant funds support the purchase of a new class set of readers. Winter 2020-Spring 2020: Students will participate in regular independent reading time to increase language acquisition.