World Language Department
Ian Carpenter teaches Spanish to elementary school students.
Day of the Dead celebration: Ms. Michiel's Second Period
Day of the Dead celebration: Gustavo - bread
Day of the Dead celebration: Nayeli - flautas, Yesenia - Mexican hot chocolate, Karissa - Mexican bread
Piner High School's French 1 Class cooking crêpes: from preparation to yum!
Sra. Michiels' period 1 (First Year Spanish) students demonstrate how to play Latin American percussion instruments (güiro, cabassa, maracas, claves) as part of their Spanish book cultural lesson. In this chapter students have also learned about Pablo Picasso, Carlos Santana, and dancing the Mambo. (below)
Sra. Michiels' period 3 Advanced Spanish class with the Mexican paper flowers that they made for Mother's Day. (below)
Sra. Michiels' period 2 First Year Spanish class celebrate "Cinco de mayo". Students made Mexican papel picado (cut paper decorations), brought and cooked Mexican food for the fiesta. (below)
Wall Street Journal Article: "Attention: Why Speaking Two Languages Is Better Than One"
The ability to speak two languages can make bilingual people better able to pay attention than those who can only speak one language, a new study suggests.
Scientists have long suspected that learning more than one language might cause structural differences in brain networks that enhance mental abilities, just as a musician's brain can be altered by the long hours of practice needed to master an instrument.
Now, in a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers at Northwestern University for the first time have documented differences in how the bilingual brain processes speech sounds, compared with those who speak a one language. Bilingual people do this in ways that make them better at picking out a spoken syllable, even when it is buried in a babble of voices.
That biological difference in the auditory nervous system appears also to enhance attention and working memory among those who speak more than one language, they say.
"Because you have two languages going on in your head, you become very good at determining what is and is not relevant," said Nina Kraus, a professor of neurobiology and physiology at Northwestern, who was part of the study team. "You are a mental juggler."
In the study, Dr. Kraus and her colleagues tested the involuntary neural responses to speech sounds by comparing brain signals of 23 high-school students who were fluent in English and Spanish to those of 25 teenagers who only spoke English. When it was quiet, both groups could hear the test syllable-"da"-with no trouble, but when there was background noise, the brains of the bilingual students were significantly better at detecting the fundamental frequency of speech sounds.
"We have determined that the nervous system of a bilingual person responds to sound in a way that is distinctive from a person who speaks only one language," Dr. Kraus said.
Through this fine-tuning of the nervous system, people who can master more than one language are building a more resilient brain, one more proficient at multitasking, setting priorities, and, perhaps, better able to withstand the ravages of age, a range of recent studies suggest.
Indeed, some preliminary research suggests that people who speak a second language may have enhanced defenses against the onset of dementia and delay Alzheimer's disease by an average of four years.
The ability to speak more than one language also may help protect memory, researchers from the Center for Health Studies in Luxembourg reported at last year.
After studying older people who spoke multiple languages, they concluded that the more languages someone could speak, the better: People who spoke three languages were three times less likely to have cognitive problems compared with bilingual people, for example.
And new research suggests that babies have little trouble developing bilingual skills. Researchers at the University of British Columbia reported that babies raised in a bilingual family show from birth a preference for each of the native languages they heard while still in the womb, and can distinguish between them.
Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page D2
A version of this article appeared May 1, 2012, on page D2 in some U.S. editions of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Attention: Why Speaking Two Languages Is Better Than One.
Piner Advanced Spanish Students honored by POUSD, 2011
On Wednesday, March 2nd, the Piner-Olivet Union
School District will be honoring Piner High's Spanish Teaching Program.
Paul Nikol, our mentor and a retired POUSD teacher, said that this will
take place at the beginning of the board meeting at Schaefer Elementary
School. The students being honored are: Rosa Herrera, Jocelyn Mendoza,
Davey Preston, Brittany Mills, Kyle Nahas, Diana Guzman, and Deanna
According to Patty Michiels, Piner Spanish language
instructor, this is the 21st year of our Elementary Spanish Teaching
Program with the POUSD district. Over the years, we have taught in all
of the district's elementary schools. At one time, we taught in
more than 25 different classrooms and we offered Spanish or French. This
year we are in 9 classes at Jack London and Schaefer. The participating
teachers are: Ms. Chenault, Ms. Schuler, Mr. Strasser, Ms. Holmes, Mr. Hart,
Ms. Fedele, Mr. Hyde, Ms. McClelland, and Ms. Solheim
This program offers a wonderful way for Piner's
advanced (3rd and 4th year) Spanish students to practice speaking Spanish
and to develop self-confidence, as well as introduce Spanish to younger
students. In fact, many students that we have taught as elementary students
later become my students and return to teach the next generation. It has
been an amazing process to watch.
Students develop, write a weekly lesson plan,
prepare their teaching materials, teach for 30 minutes completely in Spanish,
and then write a reflection about that day's lesson after reading the
elementary teacher's evaluation. The lesson plan includes thematic
vocabulary, songs, games, and encourages students to speak in complete
Spanish sentences. This program lasts for 10 weeks, January through March.
Mr. Nikol and I visit the schools to observe and evaluate the students.
When we return to the Piner High campus, we discuss that day's observations.