Community Christian School will teach Spanish at the kindergarten level starting in August.
"Every classroom next year will get some Spanish enrichment," Margaret Shields, CCS dean of students, said. "Our goal is to have it kindergarten through eighth grade."
CCS would then be the only school in Fort Dodge to offer the foreign language at such an early age.
"Each class will have it twice a week, 15 to 20 minutes each, and just begin introducing our language to our students," Shields said. "Starting with the basics, learning colors, days of the weeks and also learning to read it and speak it."
Marykathryn Maertens, CCS third- and fourth-grade teacher, will teach the subject.
"I think it's a fun opportunity," she said. "We're going to be doing lots of different types of vocabulary. They'll actually be learning 1,200 vocabulary words their first year and, of course, we'll be reviewing a lot after that, and they'll add to that each year."
In studying Spanish, students will not only learn conversational vocabulary but also about the countries that speak the language, Maertens said.
"When we go to the different countries, they're going to be stamping their passports,"she said. "I thought that was kind of fun."
Students will benefit, Shields said, having Spanish-language instruction at such an early age.
"We feel foreign language is an area that young children can learn quickly," she said, "and if they get exposure to it when they're young, if they choose to go to another country or to take classes in high school or college it will be much easier for them if they've had some exposure."
Offering the foreign language also complements the school's philosophy.
"We're going to do Spanish because so much of the world has Spanish-speaking people," Shields said. "As a Christian school, we want our students to be interested in missions and so it would be a good introduction to a foreign language so if they do choose to go to a foreign country as a missionary it'll be a good base for them."
She added, "We don't know where God may lead us."
Spanish would not be its own class but an enrichment, incorporated into the school's curriculum, Shields said.
"We use a curriculum from a Christian company that has two different levels and we can divide it up," she said. "Probably this first year we will do some combinations of groups since no one has had it. For example, depending on the number of students we have we might combine sixth, seventh and eighth together to work together."
According to Maertens, students at such an early age are receptive to learning a second language.
"I taught preschool before I came here, and I taught them a ton of Spanish," she said. "At the younger levels it will be easier to talk to them in Spanish, because they're just at that language learning level. They're still learning a lot of things about English."
She added, "They just pick it up really fast."