Local News

Spanish Language Becoming More Prevalent in NC

Posted September 4, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— No matter where you live in North Carolina, you've probably noticed that the Spanish language is becoming more common here. At the same time, more and more kids are taking Spanish classes, but schools can't find enough qualified teachers to meet the demand.

Some second graders at Wells Elementary School in Wilson are studying Spanish, a course most never consider until at least middle school. But students of Ana Bernad are hearing, speaking and apparently understanding the foreign language.

Elementary schools across the state began teaching foreign language 10 years ago as part of the basic education program. Today, children as young as five years old can enroll.

Wilson School Superintendent Randolph Sessoms says the need for teachers in increasing.

There aren't enough foreign language teachers to fill the positions. Assistant Superintendent Rachel Cozart saw the potential for trouble years ago as an education professor at ECU.

The shortage comes at a time when Spanish-speaking people are moving into North Carolina in record numbers. The need is greater than ever, but qualified teachers just aren't there.

The state is working to help counties like Wilson attract the educators they need, but until more college students commit to teaching a foreign language, the demand will remain far ahead of supply.

The demand for French teachers, on the other hand, is actually on the way down statewide. The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction says the influx of Latin Americans may be part of the reason for the change.

Reporter/Photographer:Brian Bowman