Language competence transforms your life — education minister
The Spanish-Jamaican Foundation, the Ministry of Education, and the National Association of Spanish Teachers (AsociaciÃ³n Nacional de Profesores de EspaÃ±ol) pooled their resources earlier this month to help students sitting Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) Spanish this year to prepare for their exams.
Called Spanish Immersion Day, the event was staged in three locations: Kingston and St Andrew Parish Library on Wednesday, April 5; Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College in St James on Friday, April 7; and Church Teachers’ College in Manchester on Saturday, April 8.
Some 1,000 students took advantage of the opportunity to practise their Spanish-speaking skills, ahead of the oral component of the exams which start tomorrow and run until the April 28 according to the Caribbean Examinations Council timetable. Thy interacted with native speakers of the language from Spain, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Mexico, Panama and Colombia, as well as trained and pre-service teachers.
Minister of Education Ruel Reid, who speaks Spanish, attended the Kingston workshop.
“Language is a tremendous competence that transforms your entire life,” Reid argued.
“I was in Morocco a couple days ago and they generally speak French or Arabic languages. I had a situation where one of the close security officers, the only other language he spoke was Spanish. So, I was able to be the interpreter for so many of the other colleagues to make sure they could understand what he was saying. Could you imagine the Minister of Education being an interpreter in a foreign country?” he quipped.
Further, the minister argued that opportunities aboundfor trade, education and other social and economic partnerships between the Caribbean and Latin America.
“We have about 800 million Spanish-speaking neighbours around us in Central and South America, so it would behoove us to speak this foreign language. We have a large market that are Spanish speakers around us, we can use language as an advantage to trade.”
For her part, ChargÃ©e d’Affaires of the Embassy of Spain in Jamaica, Carmen Rives Ruiz-Tapiador, argued the point from a social standpoint.
“What we want to underline with today’s activity is that learning a foreign language is a fun thing to do. Jamaica is surrounded by Spanish-speaking countries, it is in your best interest to learn the language. Teaching the language is also the main goal of the Spanish-Jamaican Foundation; they are here to bridge the language gap.”
“I’m really happy I speak English because I can talk to you and discover Jamaican culture. If I were not able to speak a language other than my native tongue, I would know nothing about Jamaica,” she said.
The Spanish-Jamaican Foundation-sponsored immersion workshop is in its fifth year.