Community Calendar

Community Artists Program
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Charlestown

Charlestown Historical Society Archive
1 p.m. - 3 p.m. Charlestown

Basic Computer Instruction
2 p.m. - 3 p.m. Charlestown

Yoga for Beginners
4 p.m. - 5:15 p.m. Charlestown

Cruise Night
5 p.m. - 8 p.m. Ashaway

Charlestown Farmers’ Market
9:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. Charlestown

... View all of today's events


Stay Connected




Westerly High School junior Kerry Tiedemann, 16, teaches Spanish at State Street School. | (Christine Corrigan / The Westerly Sun)
 Kerry Tiedemann,16, a junior at Westerly High School was teaching Spanish in 4th grade at State Street School.She was speaking Spanish to, from the left, Alexander Brophy,9 and Joven Symington,9 .Westerly High School students are teaching 4th grade students at all four elementary schools Spanish, French and Italian. It is a year long enrichment program. 
(Christine Corrigan / The Westerly Sun)  Westerly High School student,Kerry Tiedemann,16,was teaching Spanish in 4th grade at State Street School.Westerly High School students are teaching 4th grade students at all four elementary schools Spanish, French and Italian. It is a year long enrichment program. 
(Christine Corrigan / The Westerly Sun)  Westerly High School student,Danielle Kubicsko,17 was teaching Spanish in 4th grade at State Street School She was wring the colors in English and Spanish on the board..Westerly High School students are teaching 4th grade students at all four elementary schools Spanish, French and Italian. It is a year long enrichment program. 
(Christine Corrigan / The Westerly Sun)  Westerly High School student, Kerry Tiedmann, 16,  was teaching Spanish in 4th grade at State Street Schoo.lShe was asking Lily Bunte, 9 a question in Spanish.(lily has the thermos on the desk)Westerly High School students are teaching 4th grade students at all four elementary schools Spanish, French and Italian. It is a year long enrichment program. 
(Christine Corrigan / The Westerly Sun)  Westerly High School student, Danielle Kubicsko,17  was teaching Spanish in 4th grade at State Street School. She was going over how to say the colors in Spanish.Westerly High School students are teaching 4th grade students at all four elementary schools Spanish, French and Italian. It is a year long enrichment program. 
(Christine Corrigan / The Westerly Sun)

WHS students enrich language programs at the elementary schools


WESTERLY — Michael Herman, a fourth-grader at State Street Elementary School, can say “hello” and “goodbye” in Spanish, among other words.

He can count to 10 in the language, and later this year, the 9-year-old will be introduced to French and Italian.

“Learning Spanish is interesting,” Michael, who goes by Miguel during weekly Spanish lessons, said. “It’s nice to learn a different language instead of just English. And not everyone speaks English. If you go someplace where they speak Spanish, you can have a conversation.”

Michael’s once-a-week immersion in foreign language is possible through the Westerly High School student-led elementary language enrichment program.

Students from upper-level language classes at Westerly High volunteer their time after school to instruct the year-long program that introduces foreign languages to fourth-graders in the district’s four elementary schools.

This fall, fourth-graders are learning basic Spanish. They’ll learn basic French in the winter and Italian next spring.

“The more they’re exposed to a foreign language now, the more they’ll want to continue learning it as they get older,” said volunteer student teacher Kerry Tiedemann, a Westerly High junior in Level 4 Spanish. “At this age, they absorb everything.”

During the second lesson of the year on a recent Friday afternoon at State Street Elementary, Tiedemann, 16, was teaching her class how to greet others and introduce themselves in Spanish.

“I’ve always wanted to learn this language,” fourth-grader Zoe Mayhew, 9, said. “A lot of people speak Spanish. I want to, too.”

Elementary students are taught basic words and culture. High school students — about 20 of them per language — meet with one of the three high school teachers overseeing the particular language, plan lessons, create activities and gather resources.

“We enjoy the language partnership with the high school,” State Street Principal Audrey Faubert said. “They’re little sponges right now so it’s better to start learning sooner. The exposure to culture expands their vision of the world beyond our school, too.

“They’re so excited to learn a skill in a half-hour. They’re motivated by it.”

Sarah Steverman, the coordinator of the elementary language enrichment program and department chairwoman at the high school, said the high school has partnered with Westerly’s elementary and middle schools for a number of years to bring foreign language to the lower grades.

The fourth-grade program is new this year.

“We have all students teaching,” Steverman said. “It’s a nice opportunity for them for a career path. It builds confidence, and it’s just a way for them to work and serve in the community.”

WHS senior Matthew Perino, a Level 5 Spanish student, is one of the student teachers.

“[The fourth-graders] are enjoying themselves,” Perino, 17, said. “For them to take in languages now will only help them in the long run.”

Experts with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages say it’s “critical” that foreign language instruction be available to all students throughout preschool through the 12th grade.

Martha Abbott, the director of education for the council, said beginning foreign language instruction early sets the stage for students to develop advanced levels of proficiencies in one or more languages.

She also said young learners have a natural curiosity about learning, and they also are “open and accepting of people who speak other languages and come from other cultures.”

Perino said the enrichment program is beneficial for him, too.

“It’s double-sided for me,” Perino said. “I get to help teach Spanish, which helps build a foundation and further their education, and I’m furthering mine, as well.”

alemoine@thewesterlysun.com



Back to Westerly
Top Stories of the Week

Man found dead in Bradford tent …
BRADFORD — Westerly police have not yet identified the 25-year-old man found deceased in a tent behind a house on Bowling Lane at about 4:45 … more ...

Man dies after getting pinned by limb in tree …
CHARLESTOWN — A 71-year-old Deer Run man died Tuesday morning while trimming a tree on his property. The man, identified by police as Czeslaw Swizcz, … more ...

Police ID man found dead in tent …
BRADFORD — A 25-year-old man who was found dead in a tent behind a house on Bowling Lane has been identified. Jason Knight Barber was … more ...

Local barber poised to make his final cuts count …
WESTERLY — After 54 years of cutting hair, Joe DeMario is closing up shop. But he wants to go out with a bang, he said, … more ...

Stonington police charge man with home invasion …
STONINGTON — A 50-year-old man was charged with several offenses, including home invasion Sunday after police said he forced his way into the house where … more ...

Comments