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First Graders Learn World Languages and Cultures from HHS Students

by Laura Proano

During the last quarter of the school year, the seven first grade classes at HES participated in Spanish, German and Italian language and culture lessons facilitated by 15 HHS student volunteers in Mrs. Colberg, Mr. Novak, Mrs. Proano and Ms. Castillo’s world language classes. The lesson topics included traditional German and Latin American foods, the Disney movies Frozen and Tangled, colors, numbers and body parts. One of the favorite parts of the lessons for both the HHS and HES students was the fun games they played together, including a flyswatter game where the young students had to swat the pictures of the new foods the HHS students said in Spanish or German, Simon Says in Spanish to identify body parts in Spanish, “I Spy” in German to identify German colors, sorting jelly beans or gummy bears by German colors and numbers, and more.

Honors German IV senior Rebekah Young said, “I love seeing the kids interacting with each other…. It was really amazing to see how much fun they were having, and that they were still learning too.” Several classes also enjoyed trying gummy bears, a German invention, while Mrs. Thompson’s class enjoyed tres leches cupcakes, a traditional Latin American dessert, prepared by Spanish I student Gabby Collins. Additionally, Mrs. Walter’s class demonstrated extraordinary curiosity and patience as they asked countless questions about the culture and language of our AFS exchange students and world language students Anjulie Mogk from Germany and Chiara Maioli from Italy.   

When asked why they decided to teach a world language to elementary students, the HHS students shared that they were motivated by their love for teaching and the language, they thought it would be fun, and/or they were earning service hours for the Global Scholars Program. Over several weeks, the HHS students prepared and practiced their interactive language and culture lessons before and after school and during their Resource Period with Mrs. Proano, Spanish Teacher, and Ms. Castillo, Spanish Student Intern Teacher from the University of Pittsburgh. In reflecting on what the HHS students would do differently if they taught their lesson again, several mentioned that they would work on time management and plan additional fun activities. Overall, the HHS students learned a great deal from the experience and some are even considering teaching as a future career. One HHS student said, “I loved how excited and open to learning a new language the kids were.”

Thank you to our dedicated HHS student volunteers and enthusiastic first grade students and teachers, especially Mrs. Robinson for coordinating this collaboration. A special thanks to principals Dr. Whiteman, Mr. Toole, and Dr. Burns for their support.  


Mrs. Robinson’s Class: Eddie Ripple and Noah Kessler (Honors German IV) – German Food Lesson

Mrs. Walter’s Class: Chiara Maioli (AFS Exchange Student from Italy and HHS German/Spanish Student) and Anjulie Mogk (AFS Student from Germany and HHS German Student) – Frozen Movie German and Italian Lesson

Mrs. Mravintz’s Class: Rebekah Young (Honors German IV) and Mara Adams (German I) – German Numbers and Colors Lesson

Mrs. Pittman’s Class: Catherine Erb (German II) and Deanna Hoover (German I) – German Numbers and Colors Lesson  

Mrs. Thompson’s Class: Erika Majocha (CHS Spanish IV) and Gabby Collins (Spanish I) – Tres Leches Food Spanish Lesson

Mr. Stinelli’s Class: Ava Bollinger, Noelle Kraeger and Nahia Megats (Spanish III) – Body Parts Spanish Lesson

Mr. Celko’s Class: Madison Haines (German I and Spanish I) and Elliott Lentz (German I) – Tangled Movie and German Colors Lesson