According to a 2001 Gallup poll, seventy percent of Americans believe speaking more than one language in the United States is a valuable skill. Junior and International Baccalaureate candidate Jiteak Kim is no exception.
In the second semester of the 2017-18 school year, Kim created his own tutoring club for students pursuing the Diplomas of Spanish as a Foreign Language, referred to as the DELE due to its Spanish abbreviation, a test for language proficiency which offers “official titles certifying degree of competence and mastery of the Spanish language.” Kim introduced the DELE program to his Spanish IB HL class where he attracted many students to his tutoring club and the exam.
“DELE is a Spanish diplomat program for foreign people whose first language is not Spanish. Since I was born in South Korea and lived in Mexico I was eligible for taking it. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t take it if you’re Mexican,” Kim said. “You can still prove that you have the proficiency in the language. It’s open to anybody, but it’s mainly focused [on] people that do not have Spanish as their first language,” Kim said.
Kim was introduced to the DELE program five years ago by his relatives when he resided in Mexico City. Kim stated that it was important to hold a certificate proving his proficiency since he was a foreigner in Mexico.
“I lived in Mexico for five years before I came here [to the United States]. There was a big community of Koreans and years ago they heard about DELE. They thought that if we were going to live in Mexico, we would actually make the best and have concrete results out of it,” Kim said.
He originally initiated this idea for his Creativity Activity and Service, a component in which IB students need to fulfill to receive their certificate. Kim provides his own materials for the students from his former professor in Mexico City since it is difficult for most to obtain.
“I really needed a portion that would show the creative side of the CAS but I also wanted to test my own skills to see if I have the capability of teaching the levels that I had to go through. My primary inspiration was CAS but the secondary would be the challenge that I wanted to seek whether or not I could teach in an effective way and just to see my friends improving Spanish as well,” Kim said.
The DELE program consists of six levels of tests which increase in difficulty: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2. According to Kim, he is currently teaching the first four levels as it was slightly difficult for him to accomplish C1. Nonetheless, he is able to provide studying materials by handing them copies of the official book for the DELE certification program for individuals who plan on testing for C1 or C2 distinction. Although this is not a required exam, Kim states that he encourages it because it can be a valuable qualification in the workforce.
“Companies are on the lookout for people that have a widespread spectrum of languages. That is where DELE comes into play and becomes beneficial. Not only is this internationally recognized and administered from Madrid, Spanish which is where their main headquarters are it also provides benefits for anyone who is willing to take it,” Kim said. “Once you get your certificate it goes on for the rest of your life so it’s really beneficial in that sense. If you’re applying for a job, the companies can really mark you down as higher ranked person in terms of language proficiency.”
IB English teacher Jason Good who lends Kim his classroom for his tutoring sessions had originally not planned on setting the time aside to do so. However, after their first meeting, he was impressed with their format and what students were trying to do.
“I think that the way they are trying to learn Spanish and improve their Spanish speaking abilities is impressive and I really liked the fact that their entire conversation was done in Spanish for learning opportunity so I decided that I’d help them out,” Good said.
Additionally, Kim does not work alone, he has an assistant junior Georgina David who fluently speaks Spanish. In search of further academic engagement, David believed this would be a great opportunity to do so by using her abilities to speak Spanish.
“He had mentioned to me previously that he was creating this program to help Spanish students take an exam to get the diploma. I grew up speaking Spanish my entire life, I think it’s really important to know more than two languages it should be evident especially for where we live,” David said.
Marina Dillingham who teaches Kim’s Spanish IB HL class has been said to be very supportive and encouraging of his tutoring program by letting him give a presentation during her class to get most of her students involved in the DELE program.
“I think it’s fantastic. It shows a lot of initiative on his part and creativity that he’s come up with this whole program for this exam that is a really foreign exam to Americans. I think it’s a great motivator for my students. Everyone seems really excited about it he’s got most of the class to participate and signed up in his program for the test so I think it’s awesome. Jiteak is an amazing kid he speaks several languages. He’s just so involved and so enthusiastic about Spanish and the language and the culture,” Dillingham said.