Aaron Mendelsohn


   Spanish at SVAHS is taught with an emphasis on learning how to communicate in the language. From the very beginning, Spanish is the language of instruction. Class material is made comprehensible through visual context clues, gestures, and some English translation, so that even students who are new to Spanish will find the class accessible. Students begin acquiring the language through listening and reading; two forms of input that are part of every lesson, every day. After many hours of listening and reading, students begin to speak in short sentences.

   This approach is similar to how young children learn their first language. They listen, while the adults around them talk and make gestures. After some time, the child understands what is happening, even though they can’t speak yet. (This happens when learning a second language too!) If the child is lucky enough to have someone read to them, they begin to see the words on paper. Finally, they start speaking. Studies show that this is how all language is acquired.

    In addition to language learning, students in the program gain knowledge about the cultures of countries where Spanish is spoken. Cultural connections with communities around the world are an ongoing part of each course


Spanish 1 is an introduction to basic conversational Spanish, and is offered to Sophomores and Juniors.  Students will learn how to describe themselves and other people, talk about their daily activities, and narrate the events of a story. Students will know the colors, numbers, days of the week, how to tell time, etc. Class activities include creating stories, acting them out, drawing, interviewing classmates, reading a short novel, playing games, and listening to a LOT of Spanish.


Spanish 2 is offered for Juniors and Seniors. This class re-enforces some of the basic interpersonal communication skills learned in Spanish 1. A conversation about students’ daily life and interests continues to be a focus, as they acquire more of the language. Students will study agriculture and farming in Latin America, Latin American foods, and the relation between food and health. The later part of the year focuses on another short novel, this time written in the past tense.  

Heritage Spanish is offered for students who already have a background in the language from their home environment. The class is for students who are bilingual, but not necessarily biliterate. Heritage Spanish focuses on developing literacy through activities and assignments comparable to those of a language arts class. Students learn reading strategies, develop reading habits, write essays on various topics, and work to develop critical thinking skills.  

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Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School

80 Locust Street,

Northampton, Ma 01060

Phone: 413-587-1414

Fax: 413-587-1406


Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex,gender identity, disability, religion or sexual orientation.