Sol de Medianoche educational tool for linguistic immersion
BY CARLOS MATÍAS
SOMOS AMIGOS Language Immersion School in Anchorage, the only Spanish immersion school in the United States for more than twenty years, uses our bilingual newspaper Sol de Medianoche as a teaching tool.
SOMOS AMIGOS is the only language school in the United States that teaches Spanish through the immersion method. It has been doing this for more than twenty years, making it an innovative and pioneering language school since the year of its birth. Located in Anchorage, it has utilized Sol de Medianoche as an essential educational tool for seven years.
The founders are sisters Denise and Karim Otaegui. Karim has lived in Anchorage since she was 15 and works as a bilingual teacher. Denise came to Anchorage a little over 25 years ago from her native Peru, where she worked as a civil attorney for the Ombudsman’s Office. But the arrival of Alberto Fujimori as the country’s constitutional president, and the turbulent and uncertain times of the time, encouraged Denise to join her sister Karim, who was already living in Anchorage with their mother and grandmother.
Karim’s bilingual teaching job in Anchorage paved the way for Denise and Karim to begin teaching Spanish to adults and preschoolers in mainstream and community schools. It wasn’t long before the Otaegui sisters founded SOMOS AMIGOS, which held an open house on September 16 to celebrate its two decades in Alaska.
Today, most of the first class of SOMOS AMIGOS preschoolers are over thirty years old. “There is a great need for Spanish in Alaska. Well, this need extends to all corners of the United States because it is the second most spoken language after English,and because it is increasingly needed for everything. There is a huge and growing demand, and yet there are no language immersion educational institutions in the country that even remotely resemble SOMOS AMIGOS,” explains Denise. SOMOS AMIGOS currently has over 150 students of all ages and backgrounds. “Many English-speaking adults want to learn Spanish to enhance and enrich their resumes because companies value professionals who are fluent in Spanish,” adds Denise.
In addition, SOMOS AMIGOS builds community. We and our fourteen teachers are joined by people who are interested in helping the community and raising awareness of Latino culture in Alaska,” Denise continues. We have teachers from Mexico, Ecuador, El Salvador, Colombia, Chile... And we have been using the editions of Sol de Medianoche editions as textbooks for seven years, a valuable way for our students to learn about Hispanic culture, traditions, interests, concerns, and current issues.
Denise concludes, “Sol de Medianoche is an essential means of communication and information for us. Each week we review and comment on an article, discuss and share our impressions, always in Spanish, which helps our students learn vocabulary and pronunciation in a natural way.
PROUDLY POWERED BY SOL DE MEDIANOCHE NEWS, LLC. Sol de Medianoche is a monthly publication of the Latino community in Anchorage, Alaska