Teens recognized for teaching foreign languages to elementary schoolers

Awards ceremony held for high schoolers involved in Little Language Learners

By Kent Justice - Anchor/reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - About 40 high school students earned recognition at an award ceremony Thursday night for making a difference and serving their community. 

The ninth- through 12th-graders taught elementary school students Spanish, French, Chinese and American Sign Language.

Dr. Joanne Davis, supervisor of world languages for Duval County Public Schools, created the program called Little Language Learners. She said it makes a difference on several levels.

"I think the students were really excited about it -- a little nervous, a little apprehensive," Davis said. "But I provided some professional development for them and I showed them that you have to have unique skills when we teach young children -- puppetry, games, story, art, music -- all of that to enrich the program. And they were right on it."

Several of the talented teens gave short speeches about their experience teaching students in kindergarten through fifth grade, and shared photos of their time in classrooms. It sounded like making a difference to the younger students had an equally important impact on them.

"It was, kind of, intimidating at first because I've never taught in a classroom before," said Caroline Cosby, a freshman at Stanton College Preparatory School. "But I got to lesson plan and come up with some easy Spanish lessons and teach them all sorts of things. We learned how to introduce ourselves, and how to count and colors. And I taught them how to play Simon Says in Spanish."

Olivia Bryant, a junior at Paxon School for Advanced Studies, shared her favorite part of the program with News4Jax.

"Just seeing how excited they get when they get an answer right, or trying to integrate their vocabulary in the conversations," Bryant said. "Even if they're not using it in the right way, seeing them try to use what they've learned in day-to-day conversations."

Some of the high schools involved in the program include Atlantic Coast, Duval Charter at Baymeadows, Fletcher, Mandarin, Paxon and Stanton.

Next year, some of the high schoolers plan to teach Latin.

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Mandarin High School students teach ASL to first- and second-graders at Greenland Pines Elementary. (Photo courtesy: Katy Copeman)

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