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Spanish Language Becoming More Prevalent in NC

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

Some second graders at Wells Elementary School in Wilson are studyingSpanish, a course most never consider until at least middle school. Butstudents of Ana Bernad are hearing, speaking and apparently understandingthe foreign language.

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

Wilson School Superintendent Randolph Sessoms says the need forteachers in increasing.

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

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

The state is working to help counties like Wilson attract theeducators 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 theway down statewide. The North Carolina Department of Public Instructionsays the influx of Latin Americans may be part of the reason for thechange.

Reporter/Photographer:Brian Bowman

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