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April 22, 2018 10:16 PM

Learning Another Language

Deadwood, SD

Learning a second language can be beneficial in many ways. Students at Lead-Deadwood elementary have the opportunity to do just that, and their options might surprise you. 

Second grader Madison Murray is 8 years old and already learning a couple different languages during school.

"I've been learning Spanish for two years and I learned Chinese," Murray said.

She's not the only one. Her classmate Cormac McGuire is doing the same. 

"This year I didn't know they added German so I'm going to probably do German next year," McGuire said.

At Lead-Deadwood Elementary, students have the opportunity to choose from four different languages. French, German, Spanish, and Chinese.

"It's online program called Middlebury Interactive and students go online and they watch videos and they listen to native speakers using the language and then they do some language and word work and they can also record their own voice speaking and listen to how they're using it," 2nd grade teacher Nancy Mertens said.

Every third day, students in kindergarten through the 5th grade head to the computer lab for 45 minutes to learn the language of their choice.

"My kids get to virtually travel the world from Deadwood, South Dakota, so that's pretty cool," Mertens said.

Not only does learning another language help introduce the kids to another culture, it also benefits them in their other classes.

"The younger you start the easier it is, and it's far reaching because kids who have exposure to a second language or learning a second language, it boosts their tests skills, it boosts their reading and writing and language skills of course, but even in math and science, we're finding that the cognitive benefits are huge," Mertens said.

And prepares them for their futures.

"Anytime we can give kids opportunities and show them even what's available, it's just an introduction to different cultures but my kids might grow up to be ambassadors, or if they're going to work in a government position or social work or medicine, really any job market right now, you need global communication skills and a global perspective," Mertens said.

Even taking what they've learned outside of the classroom.

"It's pretty exciting for parents to see their kids getting exposed to different languages and different cultures," Mertens said.

Which is why Mertens would like to see the program continue into the future.

"My hope is that kids continue to buy into it and it's really successful right now so I just hope that we continue to have the time in our schedule and the resources to do it," Mertens said.

Plus, it's pretty fun for students like Madison and Cormac.

"The favorite thing that I like to do when I go to my language class is learn more Spanish so me and my sister can talk to each other without our parents knowing what we're saying," Murray said.

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