Ms. Pannells’ 5th grade class room 204 is taught primarily in Spanish. While some programs might see this as a disadvantage, we see this as the perfect opportunity to expose the students to another world of literature from Spanish speaking communities both here in the United States and in Latin America. It is rare in Chicago schools that students from other countries, whose first language is not English, get the chance to explore poetry in their native tongue. The students are able to grasps concepts like similes, metaphors, and alliteration more efficiently. But the true engagement comes when the students recognize the references and word play in the poetry. The meaning of the poems strikes a stronger chord when the students do not have the barrier of language, they are able to do what kids do best- have fun.
As the child of parents who struggled with learning a foreign language, I draw extra motivation to teach these students. And, I enjoy the challenge or researching poems in Spanish. Another example of the how teaching, is teaching me.