WVSU 4-H Brings Spanish Education to West Virginia Youths

Contact: Jack Bailey
(304) 766-4109
May 12, 2021
WVSU 4-H Brings Spanish Education to West Virginia Youths

INSTITUTE, W.Va. – West Virginia State University (WVSU) 4-H Instructional Coordinator Ana Karen Gatica Toledo is on a mission to create more bilingual West Virginians with a new program that teaches basic Spanish to young people.

“It dawned on me that students were lacking exposure and opportunities to communicate in Spanish outside of class,” said the Mexico native. “I wanted to create a course of study that could involve family members to use Spanish in a continuing communicative manner and low-pressure situations that they experience normally in life, such as dinnertime and morning and nightly routines.”

Roughly 1% of West Virginians speak Spanish at home, Toledo said, and she has made it her personal commitment to increase that number. Last year, she began developing a self-paced digital program called Spanish en Familia, offering guidance to promote Spanish language proficiency at home. 

Participants have access to a guide that includes training videos, conversational phrases along with audio, complementary resources such as listening and reading materials, and suggested review hands-on activities. 

“Hopefully, this program will reinforce students’ language skills and set a strong Spanish foundation for those with no previous instruction,” Karen said. “Raising awareness in West Virginia about the importance of speaking Spanish in the United States makes me feel like I am helping to make a real change.”

Toledo has already been piloting Spanish-speaking programs with program participants and plans to formally launch Spanish en Familia this spring.
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