The Spanish program at Del Mar Pines starts in Kindergarten and continues through sixth grade. It is a sequential FLES (Foreign Language in the Elementary School) model developed by our teachers, for our school. Kindergarteners receive two 30-minute classes per week with an elementary Spanish teacher. Students in first through sixth grade have three 30-minute classes per week.
- To enhance the development of listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills in English and in Spanish
- To develop higher order cognitive skills
- To promote global awareness and cross-cultural understanding
- To develop increased Spanish proficiency with each year of study
- To develop positive attitudes towards other cultures and learning other languages
Students participate in a FLES curriculum that is aligned to the National Foreign Language Standards. Instruction is proficiency-oriented with teachers placing greater focus on meaningful communication than grammatical structure. Teachers and students use the target language as much as possible with the goal of students first understanding and then producing in the language. The curriculum has a spiral design, so that greater detail, rigor, and breadth are added to similar themes of study each subsequent school year.
Classes foster a safe and engaging learning environment where context is relevant to students, providing a space for them to experiment with Spanish, learn to negotiate meaning, share information and opinions, and have FUN.
Why start learning another language in Kindergarten?
- Young people are most open to learning about new languages and cultures.
- Early language study leads to long sequence programs and proficiency.
- Starting early facilitates higher proficiency over time.
- Language study helps children develop cognitive skills.
DMP has developed a pen pal program with an elementary school in Seville, Spain. Students in first through sixth grade write letters back and forth throughout the school year. Letters are written in Spanish and English so students from both schools are able to practice reading and writing both languages. Students love writing and receiving these letters. This is a meaningful way for the students to practice their Spanish with an authentic audience, while developing cultural awareness.
Students participate in many cross-curricular activities in Spanish class. These activities connect to the content students are learning in other subjects such as science, social studies, technology, or music. Here are a few examples.
- When fifth grade students study the body systems in science class, they also study body parts in Spanish.
- When third grade students are studying maps in social studies, they participate in a “Where in the world is Señorita Fritz?” activity.
- During technology class, teams of students utilize video clues and Google Maps to track down where the Spanish teacher is. Last year she was in different cities in Spain.
It is important for students to know that learning Spanish and learning about Spanish speaking cultures isn’t limited to the school campus. Students engage in activities that help them connect what they are learning and what they can do to outside of the classroom. Here are a few examples.
- Special guests come into Spanish class to teach hispanic dances.
- During the school thematic unit in third grade, students create a video (in Spanish) telling what a day at Del Mar Pines is like. They create this and share it so Spanish speaking people in the community and around the world can see what the school is like.
- During the food/restaurant thematic unit in sixth grade, one day during lunch students walk to a nearby Mexican restaurant and use what they have learned to order their food and interact with the restaurant staff in Spanish. The staff only speaks Spanish to them. Students also learn how to tip and leave an appropriate amount for their server based on what they ordered.