Drilled on new language

With a blog from Uruguay, second- through fifth-graders are picking up Spanish in new ways.

March 22, 2010|By Tom Ragan

Children at Mariners Christian School are learning Spanish with a 21st-century twist: Reading the blog of a former student studying Spanish in Uruguay.

Dozens of second-graders were reading portions of a blog sent to them by Lauren Johnson, a Newport Beach resident studying in Montevideo through Abilene Christian University in Texas.

Johnson, 20, decided to share her cultural journey with a younger generation.

Johnson, whose blog is called Tráigame Uruguay, or Bring Me Uruguay, gives the students first-hand information on the culture, people and food.


Her next blog is going to be about how Easter is celebrated.

“Right now, we’re reading about the types of clothing the people in Uruguay are wearing,” said Mariners Spanish teacher Christine Navakovich. “They dress like we do during the summer months, only they do it year round. It’s much hotter in Uruguay than it is here.”

The second- through fifth-graders at the private Christian school in Costa Mesa are learning new words like falda for “dress” and sandalias for “sandals.”

“We’re surrounded by the culture and the language every day in Southern California,” she said. “Learning it is a must. I think the earlier you can start a student in two languages, the better.”

Navakovich is a bilingual master, having studied Spanish for five years at Cal State San Bernardino, eventually earning a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies with a minor in Spanish and an emphasis in bilingual/cross cultural studies.

She’s also certified in bilingual education and studied Spanish in Toluca, Mexico, in 1997.

“I like different languages,” said Brennan Carroll, 8. “They sound great, they sound funny, really weird.”

Carroll said his sisters, who are in the sixth and eighth grades, know Spanish so well that they pray in it.

As for Johnson, she studied Spanish at Mariners.

If you want to check out her blog, go to

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