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Spanish in the Fourth & Fifth Grades

February 1, 2023 | Tania Oro-Hahn


Research says that the best way to develop a new language is to read.  It is not to memorize charts or learn conjugations out of context or in isolation.  Contextualizing the learning is key.  Our learning is embodied and collaborative.  We try to make our reading real, fun, and active.  We learn through enacting, through rehearsing, through participating, and through scaffolded partner work and writing.

At this point in the year, most Fourth grade students can understand the class book with minimal assistance.  Some students understand all the reading and can respond to questions independently using 2 or three word sentences.  

In our Spanish program, oral proficiency, and reading reign supreme, and we develop fluency one sentence at a time.  Our methodology is called TPRS (teaching proficiency through reading and storytelling).  It provides students with high visual information that supports the written content on a screen.  Then participants are flooded with questions for each sentence.   TPRS provides students a constant stream of questions and responses. 


As a teacher it also gives me oral assessment opportunities.  The demand for choral responses provides me with informal assessment opportunities.  I can hear when most of the group gets an answer right and some do not.  I can go faster or slower based on what they students are getting.


Next week we will begin the Juana era una Mosca TPRS story.  

The TPRS story format provides students another way to access and internalize new vocabulary and grammar.   All the TPRS sessions give students the opportunity to act out quick scenes, clap for great work, count the number of questions we ask in 10 minutes at a time.  I assess after each session and  students get immediate feedback.  They can know, What did I get?  What did I miss?  It bolsters oral fluency and prepares them for more independent reading, and writing. Each year, students master vocabulary, internalize grammar and gain greater independence.  

Fifth grade students can independently read and respond to the reading with great accuracy.  Whether we read, act out scenes or play charades, or write assignments, students demonstrate greater confidence and independence.   They are able to express new and creative ideas about the characters in our book, Brandon Brown dice la verdad.  Such as, “¿Quién es el hombre malo?”  Who is the villain in our story?  Is he really a bad man?  Is he a secret agent?  Students often work with partners to read, discuss, and write about their learning.  Editing and trying again is always welcome in our classroom.  At this point in the year, students should be able to read, understand and answer questions pertaining to our reading.  Here is a section we recently read in the 5th grade.  We are also exploring Mayan myths related to our book which is set in the Yucatán, an incredible place full of amazing wonder and stories.

Tania Oro-Hahn

Spanish, Grades Two through Eight; Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging

Señora Oro-Hahn was drawn to Mustard Seed School because of its mission to serve an economically and racially diverse community. Teaching students has been a part of Sr. Oro-Hahn’s life for the past 30 years. Prior to working at Mustard Seed School, she worked with college students through InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. She has a passion for helping students grow spiritually and linguistically. Sr. Oro-Hahn’s goals as a teacher are to create a loving classroom community so that students will understand the perspective of other cultures, be brave, and take a risk in speaking Spanish, realizing how fun it is to use language. As a language teacher, Sr. Oro-Hahn strives to make work seem more like play, and so she often uses games, skits, and group activity in the classroom. She loves to mentor students.

Sr. Oro-Hahn uses her art background to help students illustrate poetry, and develop creative dramatic ways to communicate in Spanish.

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