Arizona Republic
May 1, 2007

Author: Michael Ferraresi, The Arizona Republic Estimated printed pages: 2

Language skills are little use to young people unless they actually get engaged in foreign conversation while looking someone in the eye.

Paradise Valley's Tesseract School recognized that three years ago when it hosted its first Mercado de Tesseract, which gives students the chance to hone their Spanish language skills by selling and buying traditional Mexican merchandise in an open market-like setting.

The third annual Mercado was celebrated Thursday at the non-profit, independent private school near Tatum Boulevard and Doubletree Ranch Road.
Tesseract teaches children preschool through eighth grade.

Older children set up businesses like taco stands and little shops, speaking in Spanish with the younger kids to practice Spanish.

"They actually bargain things down in Spanish," said Catharine Steffens, the school's Spanish Department chairwoman.

"(The Mercado) teaches them to communicate with real people, not just the teacher."

The outdoor market theme is based on outdoor mercados in Oaxaca, Mexico.

While eighth-graders created their own companies and marketed their creations for the Mercado, social studies students were responsible for researching Mexican folk art, which they created and sold at the market.

Tesseract seventh-graders researched traditional Mexican games and toys and ran those booths, in addition to food booths.

"They all speak pretty well, so the pressure is on the parents to speak Spanish," said Marie Learner, whose son, Henry, is a first-grader.

CAPTION: 1. Youngsters buy cake at the Mercado de Tesseract. The school's Spanish department established the market three years ago so students could practice their language skills in a real-life situation. CAPTION: 2.-3.
Second-grader Jacob Hayes holds cash to buy a traditional Mexican lucha libre wrestling mask from a stall set up by Tesseract students. The students create their own businesses and market their merchandise in Spanish, helping them apply the language skills learned in the classroom. At left, seventh-grader Angelique Carswell sells cake for dos dolares Thursday at Tesseract School in Paradise Valley.
Edition: Final Chaser
Section: Scottsdale Republic North
Page: 3

Copyright (c) The Arizona Republic. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Gannett Co., Inc. by NewsBank, inc.
Record Number: pho168061397