Young students taught to speak Spanish only in the classroom

Posted: Sep 24, 2014 7:58 AM CDTUpdated: Sep 24, 2014 8:01 AM CDTBy WFSB Staff

A teacher in Wyoming says students are only allowed to speak Spanish for part of the day. (CNN photo)

CASPER, WY (WFSB/CNN) -Young children in Wyoming are not allowed to speak their first language of English in the classroom.

Officials said it's part of a new program designed to help them speak Spanish. It's the first program of its kind in Wyoming's history.

The students, whom are ages 5 and 6, speak English for half the day, then switch for the other half.

"They don't do this at every school, so I am lucky to be doing this," said Saul Rodriguez, the students' teacher at Park Elementary School in Casper, WY. He arrived from Spain the day before class.

Although Rodriguez is fluently bilingual, in the classroom he only speaks Spanish.

"The kids learn so easy and so fast, that it is just amazing," Rodriguez said. "They can learn whatever, so that is not an exception with languages.

However, being a kindergartner in a Spanish class can be a daunting task
"I just keep encouraging on my side of it as, you might not know it now, but in a few months you are going to know everything that he is saying, and how cool is that?" said Nicole Dundas, a teacher. "You get to have a second language."

It's been a very short amount of time. Still, the students seem to be picking it up pretty well.

Parents said they love to see their children learning a new language.

"She was wiggling her fingers and saying fingers," said Kate Schneider, a parent, "It is exciting to see the connection happen for her."

The teacher is fully bilingual and while he only speaks Spanish in class, he will speak English in the case of an emergency.

Copyright 2014 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. CNN contributed to this report.