SPANISH Language teachers are participating in a six-day intensive training workshop, aimed at optimising their skills in the language.
The workshop, which began on Monday, is being conducted entirely in Spanish, and will expose the teachers with modern methodologies and new approaches to the teaching of the language.
Speaking at the official opening of the workshop at the Shortwood Teachers' College in St Andrew on Wednesday, Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites said that the teaching and learning of Spanish is integral to the country's future.
He added: "More and more, as the world becomes globalised and ... as the interaction between the various countries of the Caribbean and Latin America is realised more fully...our ability to converse, to exchange and to introduce ourselves as a poly-linguistic country become more and more essential."
He said that the workshop is an important step in incorporating the language more fully in everyday life, noting that while many students, particularly at the secondary level, excel in the subject up to the examination level, they were still deficient in conversational Spanish.
"I hope that we will be able to emphasise the conversational and practical elements of Spanish education," he said. "We have to change the pedagogy, and I believe that this is an essential part of what you are engaged in here," he added.
For her part, Spanish Ambassador to Jamaica and President of the Spanish Jamaica Foundation Celsa Nuno, stated that the acquisition of Spanish as a second language, has become a necessity.
She noted that Spanish is the second language of international communication and is being increasingly used in economic, political and cultural relations, and Jamaica is in a "privileged" geographical location to take advantage of economic interaction with Spanish-speaking countries.
She noted that more than 500 million people speak Spanish, with over 375 million in the vicinity of Jamaica, as 19 Latin American and Caribbean countries have Spanish as an official language.
The training is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Education, the Embassy of Spain and the Instituto Cervantes of Spain, the latter of which has provided two Spanish experts for the training.
As part of the training, the teachers will participate in three field trips, and become familiarised with useful tools, specifically designed by the Cervantes Institute of Spain, to take full advantage of technological advances such as AVE (Alta Velocidad Española).
AVE is an Internet-based interactive course, which also offers the opportunity to become familiar with the rich cultural diversity of the many countries where Spanish is the official language.
The workshop was also aimed at training more examiners for the DELE (Diplomas of Spanish as Foreign Language), which are internationally recognised qualifications that can open doors for job opportunities.