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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Student Reflection: Haily Pribyl-Shay

by Haily Pribyl-Shay

My name is Haily Pribyl-Shay, and I am currently a sophomore at the University of Illinois. This semester I am working at Leal Elementary School located near downtown Urbana. I am an elementary education major, and for the past three semesters I have been completing hours of volunteer work in various different classrooms at Leal. None of my previous volunteer experiences have compared to my work in a self-contained bilingual classroom. I am also working in a fifth grade classroom taught completely in English. Some students are Spanish speakers and need help with language arts activities, such as spelling and vocabulary. After my time in fifth grade, I go to the bilingual self-contained first grade classroom with only Spanish speakers. Learning to speak Spanish in this setting has given me the opportunity to grow and learn as both a Spanish student and future educator. Hoping to obtain an ESL (English as a second language) endorsement, I am learning first-hand the skills needed to help students whose first language is not English. In completing this project I hope to gain a better understanding about my abilities as a Spanish speaker, volunteer in the community, and leader in the classroom.


I have been learning Spanish since fifth grade, but not until college-level courses did I have to utilize my speaking skills on such a consistent basis. My Spanish classes throughout middle school and the first two years of high school focused mainly on grammar and vocabulary. In high school, I had very little experience with oral components of the language. Every so often we would be asked to give a presentation to the class, but I was never expected to use conversational Spanish to communicate with classmates and teachers. Not all of my teachers in high school taught in Spanish either. I think that my exposure to native Spanish speakers at U of I has expanded my language capacity in terms of vocabulary, dialects, and pronunciation. First semester at college, I took Spanish 204 for further grammar review and development. I have also taken Spanish 208 and 228, both of which helped me develop better communication skills. I know that my education at the University of Illinois has rapidly increased my Spanish skills on new and deeper levels, and I am confident that my experiences in the community will do the same.

Although there will be many challenging moments, I am excited to complete my 28 hours of volunteer work in the classroom. I enjoy working with children, especially those in lower grades, and helping teachers in any way possible. I know that I lack proper grammatical conjugations, have difficulty articulating certain ideas/vocabulary words, and mispronounce much of what I say. I hope to not only improve each of these things through communicating with the students, but learn to be confident with my abilities as a Spanish student, because like the first graders, I am learning a new language too. In knowing the difficulties of learning a second language, I can hopefully help future students in various ESL settings. Spanish 232 has given me the opportunity to jumpstart my teaching career and learn about bilingual classrooms firsthand. Through reflecting on my experiences in the community I will be able to record my experiences and hopefully learn from my mistakes. These blog posts will undoubtedly serve as a valuable and resourceful learning tool.

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