Spanish Immersion Experience in Northern Ireland

Author(s): Andrea Cochrane
Institution/Organisation: Belfast High School (UK)


1.1 Scope of the initiative

This initiative of a Spanish Immersion weekend has involved three schools in Northern Ireland and pupils at Sixth Form level ( ages 16-18) The core schools are Grosvenor Grammar and Belfast High School and other participating schools have included Our Lady and St Patrick’s College, St Malachy’s College and Larne Grammar. (The educational structure in Northern Ireland, one of the four countries forming the United Kingdom, is very similar to that in the United Kingdom as a whole. However, selection at 11 is more widespread and there are fewer non-selective/comprehensive schools).

1.2 Range of languages studied

The Language focus here is Spanish but we have heard of a similar initiative with other languages.

1.3 Learning outcomes

The learning outcomes are that pupils will have an increased level of understanding of spoken Spanish and that their own level of fluency will have improved. Our main goal is to improve pupils’ confidence when speaking Spanish.

1.4 Practical realisation

The project involves a group of five teachers from three different schools, two Spanish teaching assistants and four learning support assistants. We stay the weekend in an educational resource centre which is in the grounds of a local folk museum. The key principle is that Spanish will be the language of communication at all times. A timetable of activities is based around 5 tutorials which are led by the staff. These are interspersed with social activities and some work related learning. Other activities have included: ice breakers, films, board games, a table quiz, songs, a treasure hunt, dance, a short religious service and an activity where pupils have to invent a product and present to the judges to win a prize. There have also been visits by chief examiners and higher education representatives with their students.

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