Students Say 'Mucho Gusto' to Spanish

Article excerpt

Barbara Rebon is standing in front of 12 young students, guitar in hand, singing "bienvenido" -- "welcome" in Spanish.

The students respond simultaneously, "Gracias!" And then the music begins.

In Spanish, they sing out days of the week, colors and numbers, complete with hand motions, repeating after Rebon over and over without a flaw.

The music stops and the students each find a partner. They introduce themselves in Spanish, "Me llamo is Ashley," and reply, "Mucho gusto," or "Nice to meet you."

When the music resumes, they find another partner.

Aime Dancu, for one, is impressed.

"My daughter came home from school with a flier -- she was so excited," said Dancu about Rebon's "Say It In Spanish!" class, held one evening a week for Hempfield Area School District students in grades K-5.

"Any time they want to opt in to further their education, I think it's great," Dancu said.

Rebon encourages parents to sit in on the classes because then they can practice at home with their children.

"It's an interesting approach. It's based on sounds and listening skills," said Dancu, who took Spanish in high school and college and remembers finding the reading and writing a challenge. "They listen and repeat her words and catch on very quickly with that message.

"Her approach is refreshing and effective," Dancu said.

It's just fun for Ashley Dancu, 11, a fifth-grade student at West Hempfield Elementary School.

"My favorite thing is counting from zero to 20 in Spanish, and I like the music too," said Ashley, who practices at home with her sister, Andrea, a second-grader who takes the class.

Ashley said she sometimes uses "ola" to say hello or "adios" when she's leaving, even when she is not in class or practicing at home.

It's that exact idea that Rebon, a fourth-grade language arts, math and science teacher at Fort Allen Elementary School, is trying to instill.

"They're not just isolated vocabulary words," Rebon said. …