The philosophy of the program rests on research findings that the best time to start learning a second language is childhood, and that early second language education brings cognitive, academic, social, and cultural advantages to children.
Learning a second language successfully requires frequent exposure to, and use of, the language from an early age. Continuous use of the second language since childhood eventually leads to higher levels of proficiency in the language than when language learning begins around puberty.
Our instructional approach is based on current research on second language acquisition and teaching and on principles and practices of how children grow, develop, and learn throughout the school-age period.
The best way to learn a second language is through **frequent exposure** to the language in a stimulating and rich learning environment. A respectable early foreign language program must offer at least 200 minutes of instruction a week. Offering 1 class a week or 2 classes a week is not sufficient to reach these goals, and that is why our classes are 4 times a week. Our program enables students to attain the greatest amount of proficiency over time.
Following the principles of content-based and task-based instruction and immersion programs, children participate actively in meaningful age-appropriate activities where they can use the language and learn by listening, speaking, and doing. As children get older, they are gradually exposed to reading and writing in Spanish.
Classes are conducted entirely in Spanish
Our teachers are highly fluent speakers of the language because excellent models are crucial to conduct classes entirely in Spanish for successful language exposure. All our teachers have MA degrees in Spanish or Elementary Education and are native or near-native speakers of the language. They all have language teaching experience and enjoy working with young children.
The program follows the University Primary School calendar and meets 4 times a week for 50-minute classes (Monday-Thursday).
Class size is 8-16 children. (Depending on number of students per class, Spanish-speaking teacher aides/volunteers assist in the classroom.)
Pre-K and Kindergarten
- Basic vocabulary, songs and games, useful phrases, story-telling, role play, and descriptions
- Focus on aural comprehension and production of words and phrases and basic recognition
- Total physical response activities (listen and do)
- Topics: greetings, days of the week, numbers, family, colors, fruits, body parts, seasons, emotions, animals, clothes, school, hobbies, and more
grades 1, 2 & 3
- Grade-level extension of themes learned in Pre-K/K curriculum
- Expansion of vocabulary and cultural awareness
- Enhancement of listening and speaking skills
- Progressive introduction to reading and writing in Spanish
We assess our students' progress on a regular basis. This assessment of the children's second language acquisition is ongoing, with the purpose of evaluating how the children adjust to the curriculum and the pace of our lessons.
Our assessment methods are matched to the age and experience of the children, and parents are kept informed about their children's progress in the comprehension and production of the language.
Future Grades in Development
The program is designed to grow from Pre-K to 12th Grade. In 2013-14 we will expand to include 4th grade.