Past Features

July 11, 2005 (Vol. 1, No. 10)

Spanish Language Wiz Takes Top Prize at National Competition

Teacher Dora Villani with student Jared Greenfield
Teacher Dora Villani with student Jared Greenfield

Jared Greenfield, a sophomore at the High School of American Studies at Lehman College, speaks Spanish really well–so well that he took first place at the National Spanish Exam Level 3 competition for the New York metropolitan area. He came in third nationally.

Jared got his first taste of the language as a child from his Puerto Rican babysitter. He was also exposed to Spanish songs and simple vocabulary in elementary school.

His teacher, Lehman alumna Dora Villani, says Jared has an instinct for the language. "He is very bright and picks things up very quickly," she says. Jared also follows-up with his Spanish-speaking friends on his own time.

"I was surprised to learn that I came in first, but I was very happy," says Jared, who entered the contest at the suggestion of his teacher. Although he had to give up some of his lunchtime and stay after school to practice, he says he enjoyed the experience. But Jared wasn't alone; he had the other members of the high school's Spanish Honor Society to keep him company. Although seven other students from the school also made the top ten in either the metropolitan or national division, Jared was the only non-native speaker to do so.

Sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, the exam tests students' reading and listening comprehension skills. Some 18,000 students from across the nation participated in the competition.

Next on Jared's list of languages is Chinese.