Forty six teachers of Spanish in the Education system were recently exposed to six days of intense training.
The Ministry of Education, the Embassy of Spain, headed by the Spanish Ambassador to Jamaica, Her Excellency Celsa Nuno; and the prestigious Instituto Cervantes of Spain, joined forces and held the training workshop for the teachers, at the Shortwood Teachers’ College.
“The Spanish Embassy supports the learning of Spanish in Jamaica as one of its mission,” Ambassador Nuno tells JIS News.
"In response to the interest expressed by the Jamaican authorities, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education, and the realisation that globalisation means that we all have to speak more than one language or a foreign language, I as Ambassador, have decided to join the efforts that the Ministry of Education is making in terms of supporting the Jamaican teachers to improve their professional skills,” she adds.
Ambassador Nuno explains that globalisation has made the acquisition of a foreign language a necessity, and that Spanish is the second language of international communication, and is being increasingly used in economic, political and cultural relations.
Two Spanish experts, Joan Maresma and Belén Garcia-Llamas, from the Instituto Cervantes, conducted the training sessions.
As part of the training, the teachers were exposed to useful learning tools, specifically designed by the institute, to take full advantage of technological advances, new approaches to teaching methodology in the present classroom, Virtual Spanish classroom and for international certification.
"It is really wonderful to have been a part of this intensive training course. As we celebrate our 50th year of independence, the idea is how are we moving forward as a nation. This programme came in perfectly; it is wonderful that it came at this time,” says Mrs. Kaydia Hylton Fraser, a Spanish Teacher at St. Jago High School in St. Catherine, and a participant in the workshop.
“ I have been a teacher of Spanish for 13 years, and have faced a myriad of challenges. Most foreign language teachers face (obstacles) from parents, students and administrators who do not think that acquiring a foreign language is important. We have that task on a daily basis, to let the students understand that they are ahead of the pack when they have a foreign language,” she adds.
According to Education Officer for Foreign Languages in the Ministry of Education, Mrs. Martha Corbett Baugh, these teachers will be used as resource persons at the national level to replicate the training they received in the six regional offices, beginning in September.
"Using the multiplying factor, many other teachers can also benefit from this experience. The aim is to improve the level of performance of all our teachers and by extension all our students and Jamaica at large,” she tells JIS News.
Mrs. Corbett Baugh points out that the tourist resorts are witnessing what “we call the golden belt of foreign investments, starting in Ocho Rios and going all the way to Negril."
“Hence, based on the growth of Spanish investments in the tourist resorts an inventory was prepared of schools in proximity to these hotels, to discuss and study possible strategies where we can guarantee partial immersion for persons studying Spanish in Jamaica into these facilities,” she informs.
Spanish is being taught in all secondary schools, some primary schools, six teachers’ colleges and at all universities.