The early grade Spanish program is designed to provide an environment that encourages students to participate and explore a new language, progressively moving students to broader, real world application of Spanish, and establish language activities and learning goals based on their age groups. Phase 1 of Spanish performance is for Preschool, Kindergarten and first grades where they will be introduced to the language through activities, encouraging exploration and curiosity. A caring learning environment that encourages individual confidence is most important at this age and is enhanced by a variety of visually attractive displays. Group based language games, music, and visual arts activities will enable students to mimic and repeat simple word phrases. These will increase in complexity through the two years. Prayer in Spanish is an example of an activity. Second to third graders develop beyond that by being challenged to interact using the Spanish language. Application becomes increasingly important as students are asked to recognize simple Spanish text and convert and combine words using everyday scenarios and simple verbal exchanges. More complex projects like plays will allow them to use and experience these changes with repetition as a key training practice. Once a Spanish language foundation is established, the fourth graders will be asked to execute Spanish speaking and reading skills. Less time will be spent in groups and more individual projects will be used. Reading, writing, and memorization will help the students realize they can be active Spanish speakers.
In fifth through eighth grades, the students build on their prior Spanish skills. We plan to do this by expanding their vocabulary, comprehension, speaking and listening skills, while giving them a taste of the Spanish culture. New students to our school, who have had little or have not taken Spanish before, are monitored closely, especially during class. When needed, new students are provided with modified activities, ways of testing and projects to ease their way into the grade level they enter.
Spelling tests, grammar quizzes, tests and written projects reinforce the vocabulary and grammar the students have learned in class, with specific emphasis given to verb conjugations. During class, communicating in Spanish as much as possible is encouraged so as to empower the students with confidence. It is also a practical method to retain the most of what is being or has already been learned. Our goal is for students to be set with a strong foundation which enables them to enjoy both the Spanish language and culture now during class and some day
The increased use of foreign languages in the United States has led to a renewed interest in providing elementary education in foreign language. Studies have shown that the most effective age for introducing a foreign language is in the early school years. This understanding has led to the development of a broad based Spanish language program designed to provide an increasing level of understanding and usage at each grade level. A Spanish textbook is used in grades four through eight, providing additional mastery of written Spanish. An appreciation of culture and customs is also fostered. Highland Catholic School is fortunate to have a native speaker teaching in this area.