Si habla Espanol?

A few weeks ago Katy brought home a piece of paper saying she was nominated by her Spanish teacher to attend something called Linguapalooza Middle School World Language Competition. I’d never heard of it but it sounded pretty good so I said sure.

The whole thing got off to a little bit of a rocky start. The letter said you had to send in your money to reserve your spot but there was no other information about that. Katy asked her teacher and she said she didn’t think there was a cost. The letter also said the activity ran from 8-12 and each student would be assigned an interview time and to be there 30 minutes prior. More on that later. In the meantime three weeks out, Katy’s Spanish teacher set up tutoring sessions every morning until the competition. So I put Katy in the car and braved the carpool line to make sure she was there in time. The first week she was the only student who showed up so she didn’t even know who else was going. The next week there were a few other students on Monday morning and then they were out of school for five days between the bad weather and a scheduled long weekend. Katy made the rest of the sessions, though.

So it’s three days before the activity and we still don’t know what time to be there. Finally, Katy’s teacher just said “be there at 8”. Well,  it was being held at a middle school an hour away (our school district is 75 miles long and it’s rare than anything is close by) so we didn’t want to get there at 8 and find out her check-in time wasn’t until 10. So I went on the website for the school hosting and emailed the three world language teachers figuring they were either in charge of it or knew who was. One of them replied saying that she was the coordinator and Katy’s school was to check in at 9 a.m. I told Katy that and on Friday morning she told her teacher who later that day said “your mom was right”. But she never did really tell the kids or email the parents what time although Friday morning she had told the kids 8:50. It’s a good thing we knew, as soon as we walked up to the door, a greeter said “what is your check-in time”. Katy immediately bumped into a classmate whose mom said “we still don’t know exactly what time to check in” so I told her I found it was nine.

So we got up early and headed down there and got there 8:50 and Katy checked in a few minutes later and got an interview time of 9:10. Heath and I sat in the gym with the other parents. As the scores started coming in, they started passing out awards and it probably took an hour for Katy’s name to come up. We asked and found out that there were 400 students involved and we have 19 middle schools, so about 20 kids per school.

It’s not a competition where the students compete against each other for places, they compete against the standards for their grade and receive a rating of Superior, Excellent or Distinguished and everyone gets a rating.

We were quite excited that Katy received a Superior!

Blue-ribbon winner!

All those early mornings were worth it! Katy’s school has two sixth grade Spanish teachers and her teacher nominated five students. We know that three of them received Superiors and I imagine the others did, too. The students had a 10-minute interview. When we got there we were given an information card that said sixth graders could do a poem, song or skit and the other grades would have a four-part interview. I asked Katy if she knew anything about the song, poem or skit and she said no, they’d been prepared for the interview. It was basic, introductory question; response to the student’s choice of prompts; description of a picture; and open-ended questions. The teachers were actually given the questions in advance for the kids to rehearse. Katy said it was all stuff she’d practiced. To get a Superior the student had to be easily understood, control of highly practiced combinations of simple and complex grammatical structures, combine current and previous vocabulary and complete and expand on task with related details.

During the awards they were just calling off the kids names. I’d like to have heard what language they were doing. You could tell what they got by the color of the ribbon. Some of those languages are hard and I’d be impressed with a Distinguished in Arabic or Latin.

Katy has worked really hard in Spanish all year long and is really enjoying it. I think one day she’ll really be able to speak it.

Katy with her teacher Senora Gyori
Katy with her teacher Senora Gyori

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