Spanish Class Reaches Out to Spanish Community

Spanish instructor Silvia Mandler (left) worked with administrators and teachers at Roberto Clemente Charter School in Allentown to arrange a visit by her Spanish 110 students. Photos: Michael Wilson.

A group of Spanish 110 students taught by Silvia Mandler, visiting instructor of Spanish, took their language lessons off campus and into the gymnasium of Roberto Clemente Charter School in Allentown last week. Groups of Clemente sixth-graders (most of whom are fluent in Spanish) gathered round to hear the Moravian students read stories they had written for them in Spanish.

Any initial awkwardness quickly disappeared as the sixth-graders listened, nodded, and applauded with appreciation. Finger puppets made by the Moravian students helped bring the story characters alive, eliciting comments and questions from the 12-year-olds. A story about a boy who lost his dog prompted one sixth-grader to share his own experience. Others were simply excited to have the attention of college students and curious about their school, asking, "Where is Moravian?" "What kind of sports do you have?" "Can you learn to be a doctor there?"

"It was a good experience for our students, too," said Professor Mandler. "The writing helps reinforce the grammar they learned in previous years, and many of them will go on to teach students who speak Spanish at home." Many weeks of preparation led up to the visit. Professor Mandler's Spanish 110 students read a work by Argentine author Julio Cortázar before writing their own stories. They also created puppets, wrote and illustrated their stories, and practiced presentation before the April 17 visit.