Spanish is presented two times a week in 30 minute classes. Lessons are presented in an interactive format. A salutation song introduces the beginning of each class. Lessons correlate with the individual classroom thematic unit as often as possible and include vocabulary, the alphabet, and numbers; all accompanied by proper Sign Language. This encourages the students not only to think English to Spanish, but to visualize the word and to be able to say the word in Spanish. The class also constructs their own collective stories about their interests. Students are able to express their feelings when asked in a basic conversation. There are special activities, songs, and games (i.e., on parts of the body, the seasons, basic shapes and colors). The students gain confidence as each one is awarded the opportunity to lead their classmates with their favorite song at the end of each lesson.
Lower Elementary (ages 6-9)
Students are more likely to retain information from lessons in a context that they enjoy. Students must believe that they can experience growth through learning experiences carefully designed around small chunks of meaningful language. Students in the Lower Elementary Classes (Kindergarten to 3rd Grade) are presented with lessons that emphasize conversational Spanish through the use of games (i.e., Simon Says), songs, stories, projects, and short make-believe situations. The focus is directed at purposeful conversations and activities on subjects such as health, weather, seasons, and various others. Spanish lessons are reinforced with supplemental Sign Language.
Upper Elementary (ages 9-12)
Students in the Upper Elementary grades transition to an even greater emphasis on reading and writing in Spanish. Students are motivated to take part in Spanish class when the context through which the language is presented and practiced is meaningful. To facilitate this and give greater structure to the Spanish class, students are introduced to the Bienvenidos textbooks and workbook for the sequential grammatical mechanics of the language. They will also have projects and reading assignments from such magazines as “¿Que Tal?” and small reading books such as “Todos Necesitamos Agua.” Through engaging projects and poems, the students develop appreciation for the diversity of the world they live in, which gives them a better understanding of themselves. Students become better at speaking a new language by taking advantage of context learning and counting on their friends for help. They look for clues from what others say and make the most of what they know. After a new grammatical concept is introduced, students are often paired with a peer to participate in projects and activities. The goal is that every student maximizes his/her own communicative competence in Spanish and succeeds while also enjoying this skill.
Middle School (ages 12-14)
The sixth through eighth grade use the ¡Avancemos! curriculum. The Spanish program includes a variety of proficiency-building activities as well as supplementary cultural materials. Students are taught Spanish using a variation of the “Direct Method.” This means that the instructor teaches the language using the target language as much as possible. This technique is effective because the students are able to hear the target language in a variety of “real life” situations in meaningful and useful ways. A “Communicative Competency” approach to language learning supports the use of this method. The Spanish curriculum is covered over a three-year period:
6th Grade: Spanish I
7th Grade: Spanish II
8th Grade: Spanish III
The basic objectives of the program are to help students attain proficiency in the four language skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing), to aid the students in acquiring a firm linguistic base, and to present the target language within the context of the contemporary Spanish-speaking world and their cultures.