Greenport residents can now learn Spanish for $109

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07/01/2012 1:00 PM |

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Greenport school librarian Kathleen Richter, center, English teacher Carolyn Othen Burke, right, and French teacher Marie Richards at the school’s library June 20 learning a new language using an online Rosetta Stone program.

Buenos dias, Greenport!

Rosetta Stone, widely regarded as the world’s premier language learning tool, is now available to the local community at a significant discount thanks to a new program offered through Greenport schools.

The online program, which includes a voice-recognition component, doesn’t require a classroom, books or CDs. Users need only a USB headset and access to the Internet. Participants, who must live within the Greenport school district, can work at their own pace for up to one year.

Greenport is offering the program for $109 per person, with no expenses for the district itself. According to Rosetta Stone’s website, the program normally costs $299.

English teacher Carolyn Othen Burke said she established the partnership between Rosetta Stone and Greenport while working on a class project for her postgraduate degree through the educational leadership program at Stony Brook University. Ms. Burke said she decided to find a way to help the school break the language barrier.

“When teachers and students can’t communicate with each other, it’s frustrating,” Ms. Burke said. “My high school Spanish just wasn’t cutting it.”

Ms. Burke said she believes it’s important for the school to keep up with the area’s changing demographic, which includes an increasing Hispanic population.

Initially, the program was designed to teach teachers another language in order to help them interact more effectively with students. Then the school found it beneficial to allow students to take advantage of the language series.

From there, the program snowballed into the community.

“It’s a really positive step to show that we are reaching out to the community and we’re not ignoring a population in the school,” Ms. Burke said. “It’s been a labor of love. I’m pleased to see how much the program has grown.”

About 60 teachers, students and community members are currently enrolled in the program, which launched in April. Most participants are learning Spanish; others are learning Italian, French and Chinese. Some Spanish-speaking parents who want to learn English are taking advantage of the program, too.

Ms. Burke said she envisions retirees also taking advantage of the opportunity to learn a new language, as well as having the school open its computer labs to residents who don’t have access to the Internet.

“It’s another way the school is bringing the community together,” Ms. Burke said.

Christine Aviles-Nott, who teaches ESL, said she’s hopeful Rosetta Stone will be added to school curriculum.

What she likes most about Rosetta Stone is its comprehensive speech component.

“Some students are shy to speak in front of others,” Ms. Aviles-Nott said. “This program allows them to practice in private, which is important. It’s a great tool and it’s fun.”

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