BLOOMINGTON – Ivy Tech students in Mary Maasen’s Spanish service learning course co-authored a children’s book in Spanish which they read to Grace Baptist Academy preschool students in September. The project introduced preschoolers to the Spanish language while helping Ivy Tech students meet required learning objectives.
Ivy Tech students read their book, “Cuantos Huevos Hay,” or “How Many Eggs Are There?” at the Academy on Tuesday, September 26.
Maasen, Ivy Tech associate professor of Spanish and native Spanish speaker, explained that the project helped students learn grammar and how to conjugate different verb tenses. Maasen instructed her students to only speak in Spanish while reading the story to preschoolers.
Susie Price, director of Grace Baptist Preschool, said that the children enjoyed the visit from Ivy Tech students.
“The children were attentive as Ivy Tech students introduced themselves in Spanish and then English,” said Price. “I was impressed with how students told the story of Cuantos Huevos Hay. They illustrated the story with pictures while telling it in Spanish, then retold the story in English.”
Laura Cox is a student in Maasen’s class.
“I recall Mary telling me that if I stuck with it, I would become fluent in the language,” said Cox. “Reflecting on the recent project at Grace Baptist Academy, I must say I was truly surprised how natural it felt to be in front of the preschoolers speaking conversational Spanish.”
“I gained the most out of the presentation to the children,” she added. “When trying to speak in a foreign language, it can be intimidating to communicate with other adults. Preschoolers, on the other hand, are excited to learn words and phrases new to them, and I found that without the intimidation of carrying on conversation with adults, I was able to freely speak the language better than I would have previously imagined.”
Tiffany Willingham is also a student in Maasen’s class, and works part-time at Grace Baptist Academy.
“It is nice to see kids I am familiar with benefiting from this opportunity,” said Willingham. “It was clear the kids were picking out the key vocabulary and understanding the content. I was amazed at the preschoolers’ eagerness to repeat new vocabulary and how quickly they recalled many of the words. Upon returning to work today many of the children were eager to hear more Spanish and to share words they knew.”
“This project is a nice diversion from standard course assignments and an impressionable connection between early learning and higher education,” she added.
Maasen’s students will continue writing short stories for preschoolers that they will read during future visits to Grace Baptist Academy.