¿Por Qué Español?

Marissa Carpenter digs deep with Señoras Rainbow, “B” (Branderhorst) and Houseward


Sra. “B” Branderhorst


Sra. Houseward










Tell us about your history with Spanish education at CVC.
Sra. Rainbow: When I began teaching Spanish in 1993, I don’t know how long CVC had been offering it, but I do know that there had not been a teacher prior to me who stayed longer than one year.  I imagine Spanish was offered from the beginning of CVCHS, but it was only offered for sophomores, juniors and seniors. When I started, I insisted that we needed to find a way to begin in the freshman year, and the following year, that was implemented.  So, by 1997, we had four years of Spanish.  I started the AP Spanish 4 program in 1999.  I taught Spanish for 2 years before CVC, then taught at CVC for 12 years before taking a break. I came back three years ago.

Sra. B: CVC has offered Spanish since the high school opened, I believe. I’ve taught Spanish for 27 years—17 years at CVC. I began teaching at CVC part-time for 3 years, teaching Spanish 1 & 3. I have been teaching at CVC full-time now for the past 15 years. When our program expanded even more, we had 2 teachers in one school year teaching Spanish 1!  I have taught primarily Spanish 2 & 3, but I’ve also taught Spanish 1, Spanish 4AP, and Exploratory Spanish in the 8th grade.

Sra. Houseward: This year will be my tenth year of teaching Spanish here at CVC! I graduated from Calvin College in 2007, and my husband Ben and I moved to Visalia that same summer to begin working at the school. I have loved my time here.


Why is Spanish useful for students?
Sra. Rainbow: For obvious reasons, living in California!  Besides being a useful tool in every field of employment, research shows that learning another language is also a significant way to develop analytical thinking skills that help students become better listeners, boost creativity, spur brain growth, and gain a global perspective and appreciation of other cultures.  There is also the huge plus of being able to communicate when traveling to Spanish-speaking parts of the world.  Learning one foreign language also makes it easier to learn a second, or third, not to mention that it even helps students understand the English language better.  As Christians in a global community, another language is essential for sharing one’s faith “to the ends of the earth!”

Sra. B: God’s work is bigger than our own and we broaden our world [through Spanish]—we live in California where Spanish is a helpful skill to have. Having grown up in a Dutch speaking home, I learned the benefits of knowing another language as a small child. Learning a third language came naturally, and paved the way for learning Spanish. The benefits of knowing one language are countless, and Spanish is helpful to not only your brain development, but in your future profession as well. As we are exposed and have the privilege as we learn another language we realize where it comes from and  we evaluate other cultures–and our own–from a Christian perspective.

Sra. Houseward: Knowing Spanish provides all sorts of opportunities for students. I’m not just talking about getting a better job or getting into a certain college; knowing another language gives us the ability to communicate with people that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to, sharing our stories and gaining new perspectives and insights. It’s important to empathize with people who are different from us and to realize how much we actually have in common.


Why is Spanish fun for students?
Sra. Rainbow: Learning another language can be lots of fun, because it’s like learning a secret code.  There are so many games, songs and puzzles that can be used to make learning Spanish fun and interesting.

Sra. B: They are learning new ways of communicating and hearing different sounds, and they get a deeper meaning through reading the Bible in Spanish. Through learning another language, students explore God’s vast world and learn with mission and service in mind. Technology has added many activities to aid in learning language through songs sung in the classroom, games with sound effects and competitions online.

Sra. Houseward: Learning Spanish is fun because we play a lot of games, sing songs, and try yummy food. It’s also fun because you kind of get to be a kid again. In Spanish 1 we spend a lot of time talking about the sort of things first graders might be learning on the elementary campus: numbers, colors, telling time.


What story do you love the most about former Spanish students?
Sra. Rainbow: I have had several students who have gone on to become teachers of Spanish in both public and Christian high schools.  But one of my favorite stories is of Megan Duyst, who studied in Chile and taught in Costa Rica, and is now teaching Spanish at one of the Tulare high schools.  Megan realized she would only really learn Spanish while she was in Chile if she didn’t just hang out with American students.  So, she joined a Chilean athletic club and learned to rock climb.  Her friends took her climbing all over, and because she was with native speakers, she was able to learn Spanish faster and better than just sitting in a classroom.

Sra. B: I love hearing stories of students using Spanish in missions, being a bilingual employee in the workplace or studying abroad in a Spanish-speaking country. Sarah Lyftogt is a former student of mine who studied in Spain, then worked in Spain, and is now teaching Spanish at Providence Christian in Santa Barbara! Her zeal for the language was evident from the start!

Sra. Houseward: My favorite stories from my classroom involve students who aren’t afraid to look silly in front of their peers – the kids who will put the traje de baño on over their clothes or who will sing Estoy Aquí along with Shakira. It’s easy to make mistakes in language learning, and it’s important not to take yourself too seriously.


What is your favorite Spanish phrase?
Sra. Rainbow: Dios no me ama porque soy valiosa; soy valiosa porque Dios me ama.” (God doesn’t love me because I’m valuable. I’m valuable because God loves me.)

Sra. B:  El mundo es un pañuelo, y Dios siempre cabe.” (It’s a small world and God always fits.) or “El que no se aventura nunca cruza el mar.” (He who doesn’t take a chance will never get anywhere.)

Sra. Houseward: My favorite Spanish word is murciélago because it’s fun to say and because it’s four times as many syllables as its English counterpart “bat” (the animal).

One of my favorite Spanish phrases is, “No pasa nada,” something that’s commonly heard in Spain. While it’s literally translated as “Nothing is happening,” it is used to calm someone down or in response to an apology. “It’s ok. No big deal.” I like it because it reflects the laid-back attitude of Spain’s culture.


Anything else you want to tell us?
In addition to our high school classes, this year we’re offering Spanish in both 7th and 8th grades!  ¡Qué chévere! (Cool!)


Seven-Second Spanish Vocab
escuela (eh-SKWALE-uh)– school
tarea (tuh-RAY-uh) – homework
libros (LEE-bros) – books
estudiante (eh-stoo-dee-AHN-tay) – student
Soy inteligente (soy een-tell-ee-HEN-tay) – I’m smart!

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A woman in the LibraryFirst day of school at Central Valley Christian