Archive for Spanish Immersion

New Faces at MCS this Fall

New Spanish Immersion Teacher

Lisa Bonilla is our new 4th Grade Spanish Immersion teacher at MCS.  She was born and raised in Frankenmuth, MI. Growing up she was actively involved in sports, music, academic clubs, and youth group with church. After high school, she went to GVSU for one year to study social work, but then had an opportunity to go to Honduras to visit her sister who was involved in ministry there. After visiting for a month, she was offered a job to help open a school. She dropped everything in Michigan and moved to Central America for four years. While there, she taught Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, 3rd grade, and music.  “I was also involved with prison ministry, played soccer nearly every day, and fell in love with the language, people, food, and culture,” shares Lisa.  She also began studies online through Liberty University.

She moved with her husband to Virginia in 2014 so they could both finish their degrees at Liberty. After her husband finished his studies in 2017, they moved back to her home state of Michigan.  Lisa adds, “It’s good to be back!  After having been an ABA therapist for kids with autism for a year here in Muskegon, I’m very excited to be back in teaching.  A big thanks to all of you who have already made me feel so welcome here at MCS.”

Our Front Desk Has a New Face Too

Laura Scholma has 3 boys who attend MCS and her husband Josh teaches at WMC.  Laura loves to run and has coached cross country for the last 15 years.  She also worked at Covenant Life Church as the Early Childhood Coordinator for a number of years before joining our staff. She’s not afraid of a good challenge (eg. she has bicycled across the Mackinaw Bridge 5 times).  She is excited to help support the teachers and families by serving in the main office.

Other New Staff

We have a new teacher for our youngest students at MCS this year.  Patience Hartley enjoys leading a room full of active preschoolers in our 3 year old preschool room.  She attended Grace Bible College and was born and raised in Muskegon.
Our new music teacher, Brenda Oosterhouse, originates from Iowa but graduated from Calvin and now lives in Marne with her family.
Rhonda Hill is a new face in our support services office. She and her husband have 2 boys who graduated from MCS and now attend WMC.
Brittany Merrill is helping with our Preschool Spanish Immersion program this year.  She has been so impressed by the language acquisition of our students and is so excited to be part of this program.

Please welcome our new staff when you see them in the halls!

Spanish Immersion from the Viewpoint of our Students

What Our Kids Had to Say

We recently interviewed a few of our Spanish Immersion students to get some feedback on what the immersion experience has been like for them.  Students usually start the program in Kindergarten but can join as late as midway through 1st grade.  By fifth grade, they can conversationally bounce back and forth between English and Spanish with ease.  It is really amazing to experience their mastery of the language!

We’d like to share our conversation with a couple of fifth grade Spanish Immersion students, Abby and Maria.

How did your Spanish Immersion experience start?

Abby – At the beginning, I didn’t know Spanish at all and the teacher spoke Spanish.  She wouldn’t tell you how to say each word but instead just talked to us all the time and we just somehow started understanding her.
Maria –  I didn’t start Spanish Immersion till 1st grade while the other kids had started in Kindergarten or even earlier.  The teachers helped me a lot.

What’s the most challenging part of Spanish Immersion?

Abby – The silent ‘h’ is tricky because you have to figure out if it’s in a word or not.  And learning the accent took some time – if you speak Spanish words in an English accent they don’t sound right.
Maria – But learning how to spell Spanish words is much easier than English.   In English there are many more tricks you need to learn. In Spanish, you can usually sound it out.

What advice would you have for students new to Spanish Immersion?

Maria – Keep trying!  Sometimes you feel like you can’t do it because you don’t understand, but it gets easier.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  I asked a lot and the teachers helped me.
Abby – Keep an open mind.  When I first started I came in the classroom and the teacher only spoke Spanish.  I would sit there and feel a little lost, but it got easier pretty quickly.

Tell me about a time that you were able to use Spanish outside of the classroom.

Abby – We’ve traveled to Florida and were in a situation where we needed help and the people there only spoke Spanish.  I was able to translate between my parents and the staff.  And here at home I will hear people speaking Spanish in a store and sometimes go up to kids my age and speak to them in Spanish.  Every time I do they will be surprised and say something like ‘You speak Spanish? – I do too!’ That’s really fun.
Maria – (Laughing) I sometimes eavesdrop on people in stores but then I can help them sometimes too.

What would you tell parents who are thinking about Spanish Immersion for their child?

Abby – It’s great – they should do it.  I loved that we did lots of songs and games when we learned Spanish that helped us.  And by learning both Spanish to English I’ve learned a lot of root words.  It makes you smarter.  It will also help me get better jobs because I can speak in 2 languages.
Maria – I want to be a flight attendant someday and travel the world and this will make me more able to get this job.

Further Thoughts from the Parents

Maria’s mom gave us some feedback on the Immersion experience at MCS as well.

“It was a rough go for the first few months, but she has grown to love it.  I’m amazed at how she thinks in Spanish. She doesn’t translate, she knows and understands.  Although her Spanish spelling and grammar are almost perfect, her English spelling is a little behind.

We are excited for the opportunities this opens for her. She is already talking about being a translator, teacher or flight attendant someday so she can keep using her Spanish.

I would not say this program is for everyone. I think a family has to be committed to it and see the big picture. I do think it is an amazing program and has opened up something for Maria none of us had, or could even imagine. I often think about kids all over the world learning English and their native language and I love that my child will also be bilingual.  She helps her siblings with their homework regularly. She has recited the Bible in Spanish in church.
My older kids wish they had the opportunity – they are quite jealous of her ability.”

Experience Spanish Immersion at MCS!

It’s truly amazing!

I dropped into a Spanish Immersion first grade class at Muskegon Christian School today and I was in awe of the command these young children have of the Spanish language. When I stopped in, they were enjoying a few indoor recess activities to ‘get the wiggles out’ -check it out!

I was amazed to witness that after just a few years in the SI program, they were talking to each other as easily as it seemed they might in English. (I studied a second language through HS and never spoke as fluently as these children do.) Muskegon Christian School began this program in 2010 and now offers a full Spanish Immersion program K – 6th grade.  The best way to learn about our program is to experience it – call MCS at 231-773-3221 or email us to schedule a time to visit in a Spanish Immersion classroom!