Summer classes help LRSD teachers, staff learn Spanish

For the first time in the district's history, Little Rock School District teachers and staff are being taught conversational Spanish to further meet the needs of a growing population of Latino students.Organizers said the goal is to be able to communicate on a basic level."With this course I'm able to learn some basic conversation where I can communicate with them," explained Sir Withers, a teacher at Mabelvale Middle School. "At least the basics, the important things, until a translator gets there and we can get into some more detailed things."Withers said a translator isn't always available. "It'll just build a better teacher student relationship with my Hispanic students as well as with my Hispanic parents," Withers said."Not everyone speaks Spanish, so we've got to meet the parents somewhere on that continuum to say we're trying to be able to communicate with you and these are our efforts to help those parents," explained Dr. Karen Broadnax, the multilingual services coordinator for LRSD.Broadnax said they plan to continue learning after the course ends. "We're by no means going to become native speakers over the duration of the course," Broadnax explained. "But the plan is to continue beyond the course with some private study with Rosetta Stone, which is a web based language learning program, as well as just to be able to communicate with parents initially."Broadnax added the response has been great and a third class has been added to help meet the demand.