Gabrielle Ritter, a senior Spanish major, stepped into the role of a teacher at the Antioch School in Yellow Springs.
Ritter taught Spanish three days a week to three groups of students; the kindergarteners, younger group (grades 1-3) and older group (grades 4-6). She worked for the entire spring 2017 semester.
The Antioch School allows parents and students have input into the lessons.
Ksenia Bonch Reeves, associate professor of Spanish, volunteers as a Spanish teacher at the Antioch School because her children go there. She thought the students should get more exposure to the language so she created the internship and reached out to Ritter because Bonch Reeves thought that Ritter would be a good fit.
On Mondays, Ritter took the younger group on a walk through Glen Helen, a nature preserve in Yellow Springs. During the walk, the children would listen for Ritter to say a specific word in Spanish before racing to a tree.
On Wednesdays and Fridays, she taught Spanish to all three groups of children. She spent 10 minutes with the kindergarteners, 20 minutes with the younger group and half an hour with the older group.
For the kindergarten class, she would teach basic vocabulary, numbers and the alphabet.
“In kindergarten, we’re teaching the idea that words can sound different in a different language,” Bonch Reeves said.
In the younger group, students are encouraged to do word searches in Spanish, as well as learn more vocabulary, play games and sing songs in Spanish.
The older group, Bonch Reeves said, does everything the other groups do, learning vocabulary and doing activities that will aid in remembering the content, as well as working on sentence structure and grammar in Spanish. The older group also does activities to learn about Spanish culture, such as cooking Hispanic food.
Ritter said that through teaching the different groups, she learned about how each group learned best. She said that kindergarteners learned best with visual aids, the younger group learned best through worksheets and the older group liked to practice writing in Spanish.
One of Ritter’s favorite lessons was using a Mr. Potato Head (Señor Patata) to teach the body parts. She said every group responded well to the visual aid, but the kindergarteners had the most fun. The children would put different colored noses on the toy, which gave Ritter a chance to review the names of the colors.
Ritter said that her decision to major in Spanish is personal. Her great-grandmother, who is Mexican American, spoke English and Spanish, although her English would often change to Spanish as she spoke. While she loved listening to her great-grandmother speak Spanish, later generations of her family did not learn both languages, Ritter said.
“My major is a way of me reclaiming pieces of heritage lost and luckily I’m good at it,” she said. “At the end of the day, I am passionate about it and have an appreciation for all languages.”
Wright State became an independent institution in 1967 and spent the next 50 years growing into an innovative leader in affordable and accessible education. In 2017, it celebrates its 50th anniversary and sets the course for the next half century.