As students practice their Spanish at home, questions about review, progress and transitions often arise. Here are some answers to those questions.
What can we do to help our child at home if we do not know Spanish?
It is often difficult for parents who do not know Spanish to know how to help their child practice Spanish at home. Our program is interactive and communicative, therefore students do most of their essential practicing during class. The work they do in class should be sufficient for students to retain the daily material with little review at home There is no homework for Spanish.
A great way for parents to be involved and to help encourage their children to review is through encouragement and curiosity. Ask your child what he or she has been learning in Spanish class, have your child teach you a new Spanish word, or practice singing the many songs from Spanish class at home. All of these help to reinforce the vocabulary and pronunciation students practice in class.
Will my child be fluent after fourth grade?
The goal of the elementary Spanish program in WIlmette is to give children a strong, communicative base with which to continue language learning at a higher level. The expectation is that students completing the elementary Spanish sequence will have a beginning level of functional proficiency by the end of fourth grade (they will understand many things when spoken to at a slower than normal pace, and they will be able to respond to basic questions in familiar topic areas). Students will graduate from elementary school equipped with language-learning strategies that will follow them to the middle school in whatever language they may choose. At that level, all children will continue to increase their levels of proficiency in language.
Are there levels for Spanish class?
There are not specific levels for Spanish class (i.e. there is no “advanced Spanish”) at the elementary level, however each Spanish teacher works hard to make sure the needs of all students are met. Teachers differentiate in each classroom to challenge students appropriately. Whether a student has previous experience in Spanish or a student is struggling with a particular word or concept, the teacher will work with that student so that he or she is successful.
Are other languages offered?
Spanish is the only language that is offered in the Wilmette elementary schools, however once students reach fifth grade, they have the unique opportunity to choose from four different languages. Highcrest Middle School is one of very few schools in Illinois and even the country to have such a wide variety of languages to choose from at such an early age, and students are encouraged to continue with their Spanish studies or to try French, German, Latin or Mandarin. Whatever course they choose at Highcrest, that is the language they continue with until they reach the high school, where they will again be offered the opportunity to continue or choose new.
What kind of support is given to new students?
At the elementary level, each unit is content-based, meaning it is derived from the content that is taught in the regular classroom. As this content is introduced in the regular classroom it is also introduced to the Spanish students, making it new for everyone. Due to the cyclical nature of language study and the need to review basic items such as greetings, numbers, and colors, Spanish teachers will be sure to review that vocabulary with each new student and provide that student with additional resources so that he or she is confident and successful in the Spanish classroom.