The Government is seeking to transform Jamaica into a multilingual country through the recently concluded four-day intensive training programme for Spanish language practitioners.
Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith, said the programme is indicative of the Government taking meaningful action to advance the country’s global competitiveness, grow the economy and create meaningful jobs for the people.
“In fact our National Development Plan, Vision 2030, highlights the Government’s focus on foreign language acquisition and instruction as a core feature of the ‘educated Jamaican’,” she said.
Mrs. Johnson Smith was speaking at the closing ceremony of the programme, held at the Shortwood Teachers’ College, in St. Andrew, on August 21.
It was organised by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, the Embassy of Spain in Jamaica and Shortwood Teachers’ College, in collaboration with Spain’s Cervantes Institute.
A total of 100 current and prospective teachers of Spanish at the primary, secondary, vocational and tertiary levels were trained to be better able to impart the subject to students across the island.
Mrs. Johnson Smith argued that having a multilingual society, “will open doors for a dynamic and pluralistic global market that would otherwise not be readily available”.
“It also provides better potential for increased relations and strengthens people to people contact with many of our neighbouring countries (as) Jamaica is surrounded by Spanish-speaking countries. This will lead to a borderless hemisphere, which will open up markets and further opportunities,” she indicated.
She expressed satisfaction at the number of teachers benefiting from the programme, which seeks to enhance their skills in teaching methodology, while also advancing their communicative competencies.
Meanwhile, Principal of Shortwood Teachers’ College, Dr. Christopher Clarke, urged the teachers to demonstrate to their students their newly acquired competencies in the teaching, learning and delivery of the Spanish lesson.
“You must go back and brighten every classroom you enter with the newly gained knowledge and sharpened skills. You need to make a difference because you have made a tremendous sacrifice by giving up four days,” he noted.
In his remarks, Spain’s Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency, Josep Maria Bosch Bessa, said that the positive success of the course will help to build a stable collaboration between the Education, Youth and Information Ministry and the Cervantes Institute.
He explained that the training will be a big step in Jamaica’s journey to achieving a more “bilingual society, (which will be equipped) with better trained teachers and better methods of teaching in schools”.
“The future of an improvement in Spanish language learning needs teacher-commitment and vocation,” he said.
Founded in 1991, the Cervantes Institute has over 65 centres where Spanish is taught.
These are located all over the world and each year offers more than 5,000 courses in Spanish to small groups, imparted by fully qualified teachers, who use the most modern technologies and educational methods.
The institute is also responsible for the dissemination of Spanish and Spanish-American culture.