When it comes to teaching foreign languages, local elementary school students not only walk on foot, but also speak more and more fluently.
That message came through loud and clear this week as a dozen students representing their polyglot peers provided school committee members with first-hand insight into how the world’s languages — in this case, Spanish — are taught at the elementary level.
K-12 World Languages Department Head, Christine Smith, primary school teachers are using a classroom methodology derived from a 2019-2020 curriculum review that indicated young people are better at acquiring language proficiency. foreign languages through reading and storytelling.
With this in mind, each teaching unit includes either a short video or a storybook that mimics the way young people learn English in the context of simple stories.
“They listen to bedtime stories or other stories that people tell them,” Smith said at Tuesday night’s school board meeting.
Smith was joined by language teachers Murielle Montione, Sophia LeBlanc and Holly Parsons, who orchestrated a lively look at elementary Spanish teaching strategies with the help of an enthusiastic group of chicos from Burrell, Igo and Taylor.
In particular, Montione guided students through an interactive demonstration of how stuffed animals, puppets and other props help reinforce basic Spanish words and terminology, then integrated those terms into a humorous tale about a bilingual cat foiling a break-in at home by barking like a dog. — students repeating the first chapter line by line.
Moving on to what would be a second lesson plan, Parsons introduced a new set of Spanish grammar to present in the sequel, with students trying to follow the plot of Chapter 2 before answering a series of questions in English.
“If they can respond about the story in English, it shows they understood what happened in Spanish,” Parsons explained.
Finally, LeBlanc repeated the process, adding even more Spanish vocabulary before concluding the tale, and with it, the evening Spanish lesson.
According to Parsons, the actual classroom unit resulted in students taking an assortment of images and text from the story, then correctly sequencing and assembling the components into books to take home for themselves.
“So they’ve come home to a really good product and hopefully reading to someone at home,” she said, adding, “They could probably say it in their sleep right now. .”
Congratulating students and faculty members, board member Michelle Raymond, said she was “blown away” by how young people seemed to enjoy the often difficult process of learning and mastering new skills. linguistics.
“Must be a fun class,” observed Raymond. “It seems like such an intuitive way to learn.”