Fernando Botero:  Colombian artist

Letters to my Students and their Parents

  • DEAR PARENTS:

    Welcome to the wonderful world of the study of Spanish at MBJH!! I am excited about our year together!

    There are a few things I would like to mention, and since I know all of you will not be able to attend Open House, I thought I’d mention them here.

    First of all, all foreign language levels I and II are high school courses. Even though we are housed in the junior high building, your student is enrolled in a high school course, with all the accompanying expectations. Principally, in addition to learning Spanish, I want your child to really learn to be responsible for himself and for his actions – both what he does and what he does not do.  This includes being prepared for class every day. Learning a foreign language is kind of like building a pyramid: everything builds on what has previously been learned; there is no “compartmentalizing” or “segmenting” of learning because it ALL works together. Therefore it is imperative that we have a strong foundation from the very beginning!  

    To this end, please remember our homework policy: All homework for all classes must be completed as assigned – no exceptions. This is especially important when learning another language; students need to practice their Spanish every day. Consider:  We have all been using English 24/7 since the day we were born, and yet we are trying to learn a totally new language in about an hour a day, 5 days a week. It’s going to take more than that! So even if your child tells you he got his homework done at school, encourage him to do something at home – if he doesn’t have his Spanish materials, he can always go online to the practice sites!

    Also, if for some reason homework does not get done, it will have to be made up the next day, along with that day’s assignment. This could involve having to go to Homework Lab at 7:30 a.m., or some other intervention.  Please help your student make good habits NOW to keep from falling behind and also to keep his grade from falling.

    We move fairly quickly in Spanish class, learning something new almost every day. In addition to keeping up with homework, please be aware of your child’s attendance – it is so important that students are present to learn and review. If for some reason a student has to miss class, he must check with me or a classmate to see what he missed and what his assignment is. Also, my assignments should be on my webpage – we will have homework every day, so you can always check there if he forgot to write something down.

    Studying a foreign language is taking on a fifth academic course, and this presents more of a problem for some students than for others. Please guide your child according to his specific needs as far as organization and budgeting of time are concerned so that he can have a successful year not only in Spanish but in all his courses!

    I will be talking to the students about all these issues from the very beginning, but I believe it’s very important for them to realize that we’re all on the same team working towards a common goal. Please feel free to contact me (email is best) at any time with any concerns you might have. I’m looking forward to a wonderful year getting to know your student!

    QUERIDOS ESTUDIANTES:

    WHAT CAN STUDENTS DO TO HELP THEMSELVES IN SPANISH?

    First and foremost…students should bring their books and other required materials to class!

    1. Make vocabulary lists for each chapter. Write the Spanish on one half of the paper, and the English translation/definition on the other. Student can self-test or have a family member/friend read the English while they write the Spanish word down.
    1. Make flashcards of vocabulary words and verbs with their conjugations.

          3.  Practice writing words and verb charts to gain reinforcement .

    1. Spend time EVERY evening reviewing what was covered in class. Fifteen to twenty minutes every evening is a small amount of time that can reap great benefits.
    1. Begin memorizing, practicing, and writing new vocabulary words the same day that they are discussed in class. It is never too early to start preparing for an upcoming quiz or continued application.
    1. Review class work in case there are questions to ask the teacher the following class day. Ask questions in class when practice work is assigned. Get homework done in a timely manner!
    1. Use class time wisely…pay attention, listen, attempt the work, ask questions, be clear about the assigned task should you need to finish something at home for the next day.
    1. Plan to get help when you need it before or after school…be responsible and make the appointment for yourself. Be very specific and clear about what you need to know…reteaching is not the same thing as getting clarification.

    Spanish builds on itself every class time. Work from one day is carried over and added to the next day's concepts. It is like building a house…without a firm foundation the walls cannot be put up nor will the roof stay in place. Every piece touches one upon another until the house is built. Your student can make a study plan a good habit or a difficult battle with themselves. Encourage and support their efforts at home…success is a work in progress. Your student can be confident and pleased when deciding to take the next level of Spanish when they have given the class their best effort. I am available to help students anytime in the morning NO LATER than 7:30 AM!