The Spanish program at Atrium School begins in PreK and goes all the way through Grade 8. All grades have Spanish class one to three times per week.
Theoretical Background of the Spanish Program
The Spanish program is influenced by a combination of different approaches and techniques to language teaching and learning, including the Natural Approach, Total Physical Response, and Task-based Language Teaching.
The lessons and activities are practical, they relate to children’s daily activities both at home and in school, and reflect the joy of learning a foreign language. A significant amount of time is devoted to conversation in both large and small group formats. In all grades, lessons are hands-on, playful, and integrate cultural aspects. In agreement with a constructivist approach to teaching and learning, students are encouraged to take risks, to make mistakes, and to invent and find creative ways to express themselves in Spanish as they are constructing and re-constructing their understanding of the language. Trust, fun, and enjoyment in the learning process are central in the learning environment.
Goals of the Spanish Program
1. To help children develop confidence and communicative competence in Spanish so that they can use the language appropriately according to the circumstance.
2. To instill pride in the children, for being Spanish speakers.
3. To create a Spanish learning culture that is joyful and exciting.
4. To make Spanish learning preeminently a part of the Atrium School culture.
5. To develop a strong and consistent Spanish program throughout all grades, with the overall goal of developing confident Spanish speaking students.
Specific Learning Goals
The Spanish program has a structure and flow of its own, with each grade learning more complex vocabulary, phrases, listening, speaking, and writing skills. In addition, the lessons feed into the curriculum as much as possible, in grades PreK through 5th.
For instance, when the kindergartners study the Charles River in Spanish class, they also learn about language related to the river and its uses; when first graders work on mapping the school, in Spanish class they learn about the “landmarks” of their school and label places and objects in Spanish.
In PreK and K, children are exposed to foundational skills and vocabulary, common Spanish phrases and basic conversational elements. During these first years, listening comprehension skills are developed and receptive language is stronger than expressive language. Music, movement, simple stories, art, rhymes, repetition, props, and sensory activities are central to the curriculum. The aim is have our youngest students have a positive first exposure to Spanish within an academic setting.
Grades 1 - 5 are focused on the expansion of vocabulary and conversation skills. Children further develop their listening comprehension and oral expression skills and they become progressively adept at using Spanish in every day interactions. Music, movement, stories and props continue to be a central part of the curriculum. Cultural traditions, songs and/or games from Spanish speaking countries are introduced.
In Grade 3, children learn the sounds of letters, and begin to read and write. The objective is that by the end of grade 5, children are able to understand and make themselves understood in a variety of everyday conversations.
Grammar learned through games and activities will include: personal pronouns, articles, comma, the present tense of ser, estar, tener, and/or gustar and the use of simple but complete sentences period.
Middle School, Grades 6 - 8, students consolidate Spanish skills learned throughout the PreK through 5th grade years. They learn grammar more explicitly, yet always within a meaningful and practical context. There is an emphasis on conversational fluency that allows them to put their skills into action. By the end of Middle School, students are able to express themselves in present, past and future tenses.
The Middle School curriculum is based on the "Spanish for Amigos 2.0" Program, developed in Cambridge, MA, and is also based on the theoretical principles mentioned above. The goal is that students leave Atrium with a solid foundation in Spanish listening, speaking, writing and reading to be comfortable in future Spanish classes.