Primary schools adding second language classes

More young Caymanian children are saying “yo hablo espanol” – I speak Spanish – thanks to an initiative to make the language more available in government primary schools. 

Although not yet mandatory in the curriculum for primary schools, Spanish classes have been formally offered at John A Cumber, Prospect, Savannah, Red Bay and North Side primary schools since 2011. 

The provision of the language classes, taught by a pool of Spanish teachers shared between the schools, focuses on schools that are either candidate or authorized schools for the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program, according to the Ministry of Education. 

“This was an initiative of the Department of Education Services in response to the requirement of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program that all students in PYP schools have access to meaningful second language instruction and to prepare for the phased implementation of the National Curriculum, which will ultimately require the teaching of a second language at primary school,” a ministry spokesman said. 

At East End Primary, which is not following the Primary Years Program, the Parent Teacher Association pays privately to have children at the school taught Spanish. 

The parents at the school pay for services of the Modern Language Institute and Tutoring Services Ltd. to teach their children to speak and read Spanish. 

“Schools that are not yet pursuing the [Primary Years Program] are still encouraged to provide second language instruction where possible,” the education ministry spokesman said.  

Meanwhile, at high school level, all government schools have specialist Spanish teachers, the spokesman said, and Spanish is a mandatory component of the Key Stage 3 National Curriculum for students in Years 7 to 9.