How my Spanish Immersion education is preparing me for the future

Hola! I bet you know what that means. But could you translate this whole article into Spanish? 

Probably not. That is unless you are in Spanish Immersion. If you are in Spanish Immersion, you could easily translate it without any help. Fortunately, here in Michigan, elementary to high school students can learn Spanish in immersion programs. 

When I was born, my mom knew she was going to put me in Spanish Immersion. When I was a year old — to help me get a head start — she hired a monolingual native Spanish-speaking day care provider, who spoke only Spanish with me. So,  before I started school, I knew the language. My mom wanted to start me off early with Spanish because she knew that the earlier you start a language, the easier it is to learn. That really helped me, so I had a head start in school. 

Since kindergarten, I have been a student in Spanish Immersion at Zeeland Christian School. It is a great school with a diverse community. All of my teachers through elementary school are from native Spanish-speaking countries. That way, I could learn to understand many different accents and words because the teachers all came from different places. I knew how to understand people from Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Costa Rica, and Mexico. 

Ava Devanney has used her Spanish skills when traveling to Latin American countries.

Speaking of Mexico, one of the reasons I can understand people from there was because I went there when I was 6. I went with my piano teacher to attend a music camp with Mexican children in a small village. I was able to understand the Spanish they spoke. It was a great experience and it helped me to expand my vocabulary because we spoke Spanish with everybody there. I also had the amazing opportunity to go to school with a friend I met there. I got to see what it was like to live in that community and to experience a different culture. 

No English here

What does a Spanish Immersion class look like? Imagine you are in an eighth-grade social studies class, and you are learning about the Revolutionary War. The teacher explains, in Spanish, the worksheet with all the battles. You begin reading the assigned pages out of the Spanish textbook. You fill out the worksheet, in Spanish, about causes, effects, and important people in each battle. The overall point is … there’s NO ENGLISH. You may wonder if that is hard to do, but let me tell you, it Is not. 

Sometimes, when my friends and I come out of a Spanish class and go into an English-speaking class, we keep speaking Spanish without realizing it. It comes naturally, and I usually don’t even realize that I am speaking Spanish. 

Being in Spanish Immersion has many benefits. Being fluent in Spanish can help you in the future. There are a lot of companies in need of Spanish-speaking workers. Many times while my family is driving down the road, I see a billboard seeking Spanish speakers for jobs, and I always think, “I could apply for that job.” But then I remember that I am not even in high school yet. 

Also, traveling to Spanish-speaking countries will be a lot more exciting when you know the language. 

Continuing in Spanish

Originally, I was introduced to Spanish before I could talk. So, I didn’t have a choice in what languages I was going to learn. Through the years, I’ve had my ups and downs with what I thought about Spanish Immersion. Now, I’m finally graduating and choosing to continue Spanish Immersion in high school. Looking back, I’m very glad to have been placed in Spanish Immersion because of the community I have been introduced to, the friends I’ve made, and the things I’ve learned about life and culture. 

I will continue with Spanish Immersion because I trust that, whether I get a job using Spanish or just choose to speak Spanish with a friendly neighbor who might turn out to be from Chile, it will benefit me in many ways. 

Spanish immersion has had a healthy impact on my life, and I would recommend it to any parents of young children. Being bilingual and biliterate allows me to communicate so I can understand Spanish speakers more easily, which unifies us. This creates a bond and more peace in our community and our world. 

Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.