f o c u s o n e d u c at i o n Q & A
Clementina Peñaloza de Aguilar Why are some classes taught in Spanish? What is the advantage of the new agreement between the school and the SEP? The head of ASF’s Mexican Program answers these questions and more.
Clementina Peñaloza de Aguilar has worked as an education professional for 35 years for both official (public) and private schools. She has been a teacher, a principal and a summer school director. In her 22 years at ASF, she has been a fixture on both the educational and administrative sides, especially when it comes to issues related to classes and content taught in Spanish. Mrs. Aguilar is currently the coordinator of ASF’s Mexican Program for grades one through six, a post she has occupied for the last 12 very eventful years. It is in this capacity that she sat down recently with Focus to talk about the hows and whys of the Spanishlanguage program at a primarily English-language school such as ASF.
Focus What exactly is the Mexican Program? Clementina Aguilar: It’s the academic program that fulfills the curriculum requirements set by the Mexican Secretariat of Public Education (SEP), for a school in Mexico, to recognize studies. The program includes subjects such as Spanish and social studies that are taught in Spanish. Focus: Why does such a program exist at ASF? CA: Because The American School has always tried to meet the needs of all its students, and many of them plan to continue their studies in Mexico or in other countries that require the official validation of their studies. Also, the International Baccalaureate’s Primary Years Programme, or PYP, encourages completion of the host nation’s official curriculum. 36
Focus: Does that mean that the Mexican Program is obligatory for all ASF students? CA: No. We have a lot of students who cannot enter into the program because their level of Spanish is insufficient. Focus: So what happens to those students who don’t speak Spanish? CA: Depending on their language level, they’re placed in one of a number of possible special programs. Those with little or no knowledge of Spanish take Spanish as a Second Language. They have extra help in developing their oral language. Another option, immersion, is for children with a basic knowledge of Spanish. They are integrated into the Mexican Program classes, but working one on one with a special Spanish
Focus Spring 2011: The Green Issue