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Reinholtz revises Spanish IV

New curriculum will focus on spoken language more than on grammar review for 2010-11

Language teacher Eric Reinholtz plans to make the Spanish IV course different than your typical language class for the 2010-11 school year. Instead of reviewing daily how to conjugate the subjunctive or learning the irregular conditional verbs, it will be a history class about 18th century Spanish conquistadors taught entirely in Spanish.   According to Reinholtz and Foreign Language Department Head Leigh Hansen, the way languages are taught has evolved over time.

Hansen said that because Latin isn’t a spoken language, people started to learn languages by reading and translating them, instead of speaking them.  The problem with this method is that the way to really learn and master Spanish is by speaking it.

“In Spanish, French and Chinese, listening, reading, writing and speaking are four equally important parts of the language.  Whereas in Latin, reading and writing are the only two important skills,” Hansen said.

In the past, Spanish IV has focused primarily on grammar.  The goal of this new course is to learn the grammar while speaking the language as well as learn more about Spanish history.

“We shouldn’t be memorizing grammar as if it were math, it’s about using the language to understand something else,”  Reinholtz said.

Reinholtz explained that once students reach the fourth level of a language, they have advanced knowledge of the language and don’t need  constant repetition of grammar lessons.  Applying the language to another subject will improve their ability to understand and speak it.

“The point is not to study the way the language works, but to use the language as soon as possible in an authentic situation,”  Reinholtz said.

Students planning on taking the course are looking forward to participating in a class that isn’t solely focused on grammar.  Natalie ’12, a potential student of the new class, thinks the students will be more easily engaged because the class will be interesting.

“Two of my favorite subjects are history and Spanish.  I’m so happy that I’ll be able to combine them in one class and enjoy learning both simultaneously,” Natalie said.