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World Language Academy students help design snacks that teach Spanish
A sample of the bilingual cookies that World Language Academy students helped create. - photo by Tom Reed

Students who are struggling to learn Spanish don’t have to look further than their school’s cafeteria for assistance.

And they have a group of former second-graders from World Language Academy in Flowery Branch to thank.

The Dick and Jane Baking Company recently introduced its first bilingual snack, which features English and Spanish words selected by the South Hall students.

“I thought helping was pretty neat,” said Eva, who is now in third grade.

“I’ve never done anything like this before.”

The school was brought to the company’s attention during a conference last year by Cookie Palmer, the Hall County Schools System director of nutrition.

“(The company owner) was talking about these educational snacks they make that are sold in school cafeterias. They have ones that talk about states and capitals and ones that talk about presidents,” said Carrie Woodcock, the academy’s dual language coordinator.

“They were wanting to create a bilingual cookie and (Palmer) said, ‘Well we’ve got the World Language Academy. Why don’t you work with our students?’”

The academy is a dual immersion school where students receive instruction in both English and Spanish, so the project was a perfect fit.

Palmer put the company in contact with Woodcock, who in turn contacted second grade teacher Veronica Guzman.

“I invited my students to tell me words that helped them when they were first learning Spanish,” Guzman said.

“We were looking for words that they use in their daily writing or that they see in their daily reading lessons.

“I told them we were supposed to be submitting words to a company for something special.”

Initially, the students didn’t know exactly what their words were going to be used for. At first lots of students were interested, but in the end Guzman said it was a small group that proved to be interested in the extra assignment.

“We came up with more than 100 words,” Guzman said.

The initial list showcased the students extensive Spanish vocabulary.

“I’ve been studying Spanish since I was in (prekindergarten),” said Mallary, a World Language third-grader.

While their language skills are pretty advanced, they realized that not all students have been exposed to such extensive language instruction, so they revised their list to include basic words like “escuela” or “school.”

“Picking words was kind of easy because most of them were ones we’ve known for a while,” said Alayna, who is also in third grade.

The World Language Academy students were able to share the fruits of their labor with their classmates last week when a special shipment of the snacks arrived in time for the school’s Cinco de Mayo celebration.

The snacks not only will help other kids learn Spanish, but they’re also a tool for showing the benefits of foreign language education.

“We were invited to present at the National Association for Bilingual Education,” Woodcock said.

“So we took a bunch of the snacks as a way to show how the students used their language skills in a real world application.”

The snacks are currently distributed in more than 20 states and are available for purchase online.

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