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Clarence Middle School students head to Costa Rica

Not many people can say they visited volcanoes, went zip lining and hiked to a waterfall all before reaching high school. Well, a group of Clarence Middle School Spanish students will have these bragging rights and a great experience under their belt after their trip to Costa Rica next week.

Eighth grade Spanish teachers Carolina Delaney and Bridget Ryan took a small group of students to Costa Rica last year as an educational experience and have gathered 20 students this year to make the trip.

Delaney expressed her decision for taking the children to Costa Rica rather than Spain as a more “hands on” experience. It’s not just museums and the typical tourist attractions. She referred to this type of trip as “eco-tourism.” Much of the experience takes place in nature.

The students will visit three volcanoes, hot springs, hike to a beautiful waterfall and even have the opportunity to go zip lining through the wilderness.

“It’s really nice because it kind of ties in the Spanish and the science curriculums,” said Delaney.

For the Spanish side of the educational experience, the students will be speaking with natives of the language throughout the entire trip. They’ll come back to the states with a wider vocabulary and even some of the Costa Rican slang.

As the English language may have more than one word to describe a certain object, place or action, so does Spanish. Delaney used the examples of soda and pop. When the students speak with the Spanish native speakers, they will learn new words and become more fluent in the language. Delaney noticed, after last year’s trip, that the students that went to Costa Rica seemed to come back with a bit more confidence when speaking Spanish as well.

“It’s just amazing for them to be able to use the Spanish with native speakers,” said Delaney. “It’s very beneficial for them to practice their language skills with the native speakers too.”

She also said that the students keep journals throughout the seven-day trip with new words and phrases they’ve learned.

As Spanish is a widely spoken language in the United States, Delaney believes that it’s a very important language for students to be learning.

The trip to Costa Rica will not only teach the language and even some science, but the students will also learn what it’s like outside of their hometown and country. They become more aware of how people live in other countries, how different the cultures can be and the similarities.

Delaney explained that the trip is only for eighth graders for a few reason. One reason is that the students are a bit more mature with the language and will be more capable of speaking with the natives. Another reason is that the students choose which language they’d like to take when they’re in sixth grade and the trip takes an entire year to plan and fun-raise for. It wouldn’t be possible for seventh grade students to go.

Individual fund-raising for each student pays some of the cost for the trip for and the students and their families pay for the rest.

Delaney said she hopes to continue this trip for years to come and that it creates a great experience for the children.

“It’s just an amazing opportunity for them to travel to another country and meet all the people,” she said.


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