Students, parents embracing Spanish classes

Senora Loyda Collins and her chicos, children in Spanish, enthusiastically sing songs, count and learn phrases in a language not normally associated with Canadian kindergartners.

Senora Loyda Collins and her chicos, children in Spanish, enthusiastically sing songs, count and learn phrases in a language not normally associated with Canadian kindergartners.

Last fall the Red Deer Public School District began offering a Spanish program for Kindergartners at G.H. Dawe school. Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world after Mandarin.

Now seven months into the program board officials, teachers and parents are calling it a success.

Two classes, one morning and one afternoon, file in and learn from Collins daily. They dance to Spanish Youtube videos, sing songs, count, say the alphabet, practice and recite phrases to one another and learn the language, alongside their English routine.

Collins, who is originally from Mexico, was very excited when she was asked to be a part of the program’s first year.

“I think Red Deer needs a Spanish bilingual program,” said Collins. “The culture here, we’re getting people from all over and the Spanish culture is growing here. I was excited for the children as well, because if they are exposed to another language they have more opportunities in life.”

Collins said it is good the students are so young, because when they start learning a second language at this age, they repeat everything.

“It has been excellent,” said Collins. “The chicos have exceeded my expectations.”

Because of the success of the program, the board is continuing on with the students into Grade 1. Though Collins is sad she won’t have the students, she is glad it is continuing.

Already there are about 25 students registered for the kindergarten Spanish program next year. Currently there are 27 in the program, 15 in the morning and 12 in the afternoon.

“They’re talking in Spanish and they’re just in kindergarten,” said Collins. “Can you imagine what they’d be like in Grade 5?”

Collins also said that students just coming into the kindergarten or Grade 1 programs next year don’t need to know any Spanish.

Tammy Reiniger and Stephanie Gross, two parents with students in the program, have both had a good experience.

Gross’ child was previously in a delayed speech program.

“Within a couple of months he has been discharged from the program because his language skills have improved so much,” said Gross. “He’s caught up now and I think a lot of it has to do with learning the two languages.”

Reiniger volunteers in Collins’ class once a week. “Senora is amazing, said Reiniger. “She has become a friend more than anything.”

Stu Henry, Red Deer public school deputy superintendent, also touted the program as a success.

“We’re closing in on the end of our first year and it has been a huge success for our school district,” said Henry. “Probably the biggest change we put in this year and we’re thrilled with how it is going.”

Henry said the initial concern was that there would be insufficient numbers for the program to run, but that hasn’t been the case.

“I think Loyda Collins is a huge reason the program has been so successful,” said Henry. “Loyda is just an absolute gift for our school district and teaches with just such passion.”

Already they have posted for job ad for the Grade 1 and Henry said they have numerous great applicants.

“It’s more than just a program to me, it is a community,” said Collins. “I come and teach the children. The children go home and teach the parents and the baby and they start teaching each other. Then I have parents come and volunteer for me as well and they already know the alphabet.

“It is a community, we all help each other here.”

mcrawford@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The union representing workers at the Olymel meat processing plant in Red Deer confirmed the death of a worker on Wednesday. (Advocate file photo)
Union confirms death of worker from Olymel plant

An investigation by the UFCW 401 local has confirmed a fourth death… Continue reading

Sunterra Market is preparing to open at Bower Place. (Photo from Facebook)
Sunterra Market to open in Red Deer in March

Bower Place to welcome grocery shoppers

Weather brief (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
Red Deer experiences driest winter in 99 years

The city only had 9.6 millimeters of precipitation between December and February

The number of positive cases of COVID-19 has been climbing up since Jan. 20 at Red Deer's Olymel meat processing plant. (File photo by Advocate Staff)
Some Olymel workers return for training, plant reopening date not set

Union calls for delay of opening as workers fear for safety

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, March 2, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Conservative MP David Sweet joins chorus calling for end to COVID-19 restrictions

OTTAWA — A Conservative MP has joined the chorus of voices calling… Continue reading

The Onslow Belmont Fire Brigade is seen in Lower Onslow, N.S., Wednesday, April 22, 2020. The RCMP says two officers who fired towards a civilian and another RCMP officer during last year’s mass shooting will remain on administrative duties until internal inquiries are completed .THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
N.S. RCMP who shot at firehall on administrative duty during internal reviews of case

HALIFAX — The RCMP says two officers who fired towards a civilian… Continue reading

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rises during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. Efforts to increase Canada's ability to produce vaccines is among over 100 projects receiving new federal money. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Over 100 new projects to get $518 million in federal research funding

OTTAWA — Efforts to boost Canada’s ability to produce vaccines are among… Continue reading

Hassan Diab, whose allegations of involvement in a 1980 synagogue bombing were dismissed by French judges for lack of evidence, listens during a press release on the release of an external review on his extradition by the Justice Department on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Friday, July 26, 2019. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is signalling that Canada will stand up for Diab, an Ottawa sociology professor facing trial in France, following calls from human-rights advocates to intervene. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Trudeau signals support for Hassan Diab as Ottawa professor appeals case in France

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is signalling Canada will stand up… Continue reading

NDP MP Niki Ashton stands during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Thursday, April 26, 2018. Two prominent Jewish advocacy groups are voicing anti-Semitism concerns ahead of a public conversation between NDP MP Niki Ashton and former U.K. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Jewish groups raise anti-Semitism concerns ahead of NDP MP’s chat with Corbyn

OTTAWA — Two prominent Jewish advocacy groups are voicing concerns about anti-Semitism… Continue reading

Major-General Dany Fortin, left, looks on as Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. The Public Health Agency of Canada has set aside up to $5 billion to pay for COVID-19 vaccines. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Public Health Agency of Canada budgets $5B for COVID-19 vaccines, treatments

OTTAWA — The Public Health Agency of Canada expects to spend up… Continue reading

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed optimism Wednesday that his government’s timeline for… Continue reading

UCP MLA for Lacombe-Ponoka Ron Orr. (File photo)
MLA Ron Orr: Benchmarks were achieved but goalposts were moved

Orr responds to concerns, calls on province to fully open Step 2

Most Read