Part 1: Preparing global citizens in West Virginia

HARRISON COUNTY, W. Va. (WDTV) - A group of students from Bridgeport High School busted some moves to the sound of cumbia and salsa. This, so they would learn more about Latin American cultures. With every step, the students not only learned a dance move but the history behind it.

"We try to elicit those experiences and build from there," said Jenny Santilli who is one of the two Spanish teachers at the school. She's preparing her students to be global citizens.

"It takes a lot of practice over and over time. The most I have in a good year, I have them for 90 days, 90 minutes a day," she said.

Right now, high schools offer three years of the same language. Some even more.

"We hope to teach in college, a dual college and high school credit Spanish four next year," said Santilli.

Officials at the state's Department of Education told 5 News that there's a shortage of world language teachers. For Spanish, they rely on the West Virginia Virtual School and teachers from the Embassy of Spain visiting program.

"I think it's so so important, Spanish is an incredibly important language," said Harrison County Schools superintendent Dr. Mark Manchin. "One of the interval parts is our foreign languages."

He says he's trying to expand the curriculum in his school district, starting from elementary schools.

"People who speak it earlier are able to speak it without an accent," he said.

He hopes that all of this will help students expand their communication skills in a world where local and global affairs are connected and technology is transforming the way people interact

"I just think foreign languages not only opens the world, it opens up the world to different cultures but also it opens up your mind," said Manchin.

The state offers multiple languages, including Spanish, Italian, Japanese, German, Latin, French and Chinese.