Our language program in the Weston Elementary Schools is designed to provide young students with access to spoken Spanish for both comprehension and pronunciation, to provide opportunities to use simple vocabulary and sentence patterns in a non-threatening environment, and to introduce them to learning strategies that will help them succeed in the study of languages in the future. Unlike more traditional language instruction for older students, both methods and curricular expectations are predicated on first language acquisition theory. We anticipate that students will spend considerable time during the first few years of instruction amassing receptive language without recognizing that they are doing so. “Conversations” at this level are limited to specific sentence and question patterns, with students substituting a limited number of simple words to create original expression. As is true of babies learning their first language, responding to simple commands, repeating sounds, and naming common items constitute a large part of our expectations for students. We also recognize that, just as babies spend 1-2 years concentrating full time on the task of learning language, our students’ progress will be commensurate with the time spent on the task. No child leaving our program in the elementary years should expect fluency in Spanish based solely on the exposure and practice we offer in one hour a week. Finally, we recognize that many students join our language classes later in the sequence than their peers. For this reason, we have designed a spiraling curriculum in which concepts and vocabulary introduced in earlier lessons are re-introduced and reviewed at many points each year.
Grade 1 Overview
Expectations for students at this level include: responses to simple questions about themselves (ages, name, etc.) or their environment (weather conditions, day of the week), responses to teacher instructions that indicate comprehension, telling likes and dislikes, and naming a variety of common items.
Grade 2 Overview
Children in the second year of our program continue working to meet the expectations set for all students in Grade 1 and add simple two-way conversations using structured sentence patterns to their repertoire. They also begin to focus deliberate attention on specific learning strategies used to comprehend a second language.
Grade 3 Overview
The primary focus of this year of instruction includes a review of the work covered in previous years and the expansion to describing items using the third person singular of common verbs. However, we stress the fact that verb conjugations are presented as a component of vocabulary work, not as the application of linguistic systems. Student attention is guided to information contained in word suffixes, but we do not expect young students to deliberately apply abstract rules to the construction of independent language. Emphasis on learning strategies to comprehend a second language is also continued.
Please be sure to visit our grade level websites with more information and games at:
Spanish Teacher: Kristen Sheridan