Spanish student making most of opportunity to work at
Marta García Cañas was about 5-years old when she started
“As I continued to study the language, it made me want to become
a teacher,” said the native of Ciudad, Spain. “I was interested by
the teaching process and methods.”
Now 22, García Cañas is a student at the University of
Castilla-La Mancha in Ciudad Real and plans to become a teacher
after she graduates next year. And her ability to speak Spanish and
English fluently is paying big dividends.
García Cañas is spending this school year at Garfield Elementary
School as a teaching assistant, courtesy of the Spanish
She’s one of 27 students who were selected by the Spanish
government this year to participate in its International Spanish
Academies project. Garfield is one of about 90 schools throughout
the United States and Canada that are recognized by the Spanish
government as an International Spanish Academy.
Garfield received the distinction two years ago because of the
success of its dual language immersion program and its diverse
The International Spanish Academies project is exploring a
teaching model based on a shared curriculum of both English/Spanish
languages at the primary and secondary levels. Several of its main
goals are to increase the awareness and value of multicultural
education and help students express themselves effectively in both
Spanish and English.
“I was so excited when I found out I had been selected,” García
Cañas said. “Originally, I had been on a waiting list. But then
several students rejected the opportunity, so I seized it.”
García Cañas will be in Corvallis through the end of the school
year in June. She’s living with a host family and the Spanish
government is providing a stipend to help García Cañas cover her
living expenses. She spends about 20 hours a week at Garfield,
where she works mainly in the English-only classrooms.
One of García Cañas’ main responsibilities is to help students
learn about Spanish culture and language. Recently, she has helped
teach a foods unit to first graders, while incorporating Spanish.
She said she has enjoyed working at a dual language immersion
school such as Garfield.
“In Spain we weren’t allowed to talk in English at school,”
García Cañas said. “So it has been nice to see students speaking in
both languages throughout the school.”
Garfield principal Juan Baez said students have responded to
García Cañas well this year. He said they are eager to ask her
questions about her home country.
“Marta has helped many students understand Spanish in a
different content,” Baez said. “They are familiar with it in terms
of Mexico or Central America. Now they will be able to recognize
García Cañas said she’s enjoyed immersing herself in American
culture and the Corvallis community. One of the biggest
adjustments, not surprisingly, was the weather. However, she said
she has gotten used to it and even enjoys the rain. Her favorite
restaurant in town is Pastini’s.
“One of the other things that really surprised me is how big of
a deal Christmas time is here,” García Cañas said. “People in Spain
celebrate it, but not like here. The kids get so excited about; it
was really fun to see that.”
She said one of her favorite things about working at Garfield is
receiving hugs from students. She said that student/teacher hugs
don’t occur in Spanish schools.
García Cañas said that her experience at the school so far has
affirmed her desire to become a teacher. In fact, she wouldn’t mind
returning to Garfield as a full-time dual language immersion
“I’ve really come to like it here,” she said. “I could see
myself teaching here in the United States someday.”