Professor Recognized for Pairing Duquesne Spanish Students with Preschoolers

The Duquesne University professor who launched a three-week program in which her students immersed mainly English-speaking preschoolers into Spanish language and culture has been recognized.

Dr. Lucia Osa-Melero, assistant professor of modern languages and literatures, was named the SANS Inc./Mead Leadership Fellow for the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages for this scholarship working with the community.

In her program, Niños y Niñas Bilingües y Biculturales, Osa-Melero's college students delivered programming on basic vocabulary, geography, history and cultural features of Spanish-speaking countries to English-speaking preschool children ages 3 to 5 in the YMCA-Duquesne Child Development Center.

Research shows the sessions benefit both the preschool and collegiate students, Osa-Melero said.

"Current research suggest that children, including those with special needs, are capable of learning foreign languages from their earliest months of life, and this language challenge benefits learners in multiple ways," she said, such as improving cognitive abilities, influencing achievement in other disciplines, and resulting in higher reading and math test scores.

The undergraduate Spanish students, using the "learning by teaching" pedagogical method, reflect on the content as they prepare and teach the younger learners. "'The one who does the talking, does the learning' may best summarize the point," Osa-Melero said.

Osa-Melero, a resident of Pittsburgh's Regent Square neighborhood, grew up in Spain. She plans to conduct the program again in the second and third weeks of February at the preschool to present cultural differences of the Valentine's Day festivity while teaching vocabulary related to emotions.

With assistance of the fellowship, she expects to bring the program to interested public schools in the area this fall.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and horizon-expanding education. A campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, Duquesne prepares students by having them work alongside faculty to discover and reach their goals. The University's academic programs, community service, and commitment to equity and opportunity in the Pittsburgh region have earned national acclaim. 

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