Speaking Spanish and Portuguese in Kentucky! ¡Hola! Olá!

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Raceland-Worthington and Russell Independent students after the induction ceremony into the Spanish Honor Society. On the far left is Catherine del Valle, Spanish teacher at Russell Independent High School; and on the far right is Zenaida Smith, Spanish teacher at Raceland-Worthington High School.
Raceland-Worthington and Russell Independent students after the induction ceremony into the Spanish Honor Society. On the far left is Catherine del Valle, Spanish teacher at Russell Independent High School; and on the far right is Zenaida Smith, Spanish teacher at Raceland-Worthington High School.

By Zenaida Smith
zenaida.smith@raceland.kyschools.us

The American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP) promotes the study and teaching of the Spanish and Portuguese languages and their corresponding Hispanic, Luso-Brazilian and other related literature and cultures at all levels of education.

The association encourages, supports and directs programs and research projects involving the exchange of pedagogical and scholarly information. Through extensive collaboration with educators, professionals and institutions in other countries, AATSP contributes to a better and deeper understanding between the United States and the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking nations of the world.

The AATSP-KY Chapter is composed of Spanish and Portuguese educators from the elementary to post-secondary levels. As a member of the state chapter, educators can be a part of and receive all the benefits from the national association, such as scholarships for both educators and students. The educators’ scholarships allow them to further their college career or professional development.

Among some of the opportunities for educators are funded trips to countries such as Mexico, Spain, Guatemala and Peru. These exciting experiences often cover travel expenses, tuition or room and board while the educator earns college credits toward their master’s or doctoral degrees as part of their continuing education. These trips encourage total cultural emersion which, by itself, can enrich the life of any individual.

The association also is constantly doing research on language methodologies and collaborating with other associations – like the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages ­– and creating webinars and conferences. Such efforts not only support the professionals in the field, but also provide new ideas and best practices in order to improve students’ achievement as globally competent citizens in the 21st century.

AATSP-KY promotes the participation of teachers in the Spanish Honor Society and the National Spanish exam. Both programs are sponsored by the national association to motivate students to continue with the study of languages.

The Spanish Honor Society is comprised of students who are in level 2 and above, and that have not only shown interest in the study of the language, but also exceled academically. Through the society, teachers can celebrate their student´s success while joining other educators to participate and collaborate in a cultural adventure, where dancing and cooking lessons are part of the fun, as well as playing games, talking with native speakers and participating in art sessions.

Kentucky is the only state that has had a convention for the students for more than 20 years and it is still going strong. Also, in 2013 the Kentucky Chapter established a $500 scholarship for a senior member who wins the scholarship competition at the convention.

In addition, the National Spanish Exam assists educators and gives feedback to the students about their performance nationwide. The data collected can be used as a tool for instructional design for educators, while serving as a motivational tool for students because it gives them the opportunity to win a scholarship to study abroad.

If you are a Spanish or Portuguese educator who likes to grow professionally and loves travelling, then you need to join us! We can´t wait to meet you!

If you would like to learn more about AATSP and what it has to offer, you can visit the association’s website here, or contact your AATSP of Kentucky representative at zenaida.smith@raceland.kyschools.us.

 

Zenaida Smith is a Spanish teacher at Raceland-Worthington High School (Raceland Independent). She is the president of the Kentucky chapter of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, and also is a board member for the Kentucky World Language Association.

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