Friday, March 30, 2012

After school language programs fill the gap in Florida

We are hearing about many after-school and extracurricular language programs for elementary schools. The LEE program provides elementary school children with Spanish language instruction as an after-school activity in St. John's County in Florida. Created by two teachers, the LEE program is focused on differentiated learning and letting each child acquire language in their own way. The variety of activities and the rigorous preparation of the teachers, is probably the key to their success. Here's a recent article about the program: Bilinguals in the Making | Eco Latino

What can all parents and teachers take away from this? We think these two points should help teachers  improve their own lanaguage teaching skills:
1. Each student is a unique individual, and the teacher cannot provide a "one size fits all" instructional approach. The teacher needs to have an endless bag of tricks - multiple ways of introducing and practicing language. Each of us has our own favorite activities, but it's important to keep adding, expanding and adapting the toolkit to keep the engagement level high. That is why QTalk provides classroom games in card-based format, in Smartboard lessons (our DLS products) and then the same material in Student Books and in Online Games. We love the idea of music and singing in the classroom! The brain is soothed by music, and the patterns of rhyme and meter in the lyrics create connections that are much stronger, than those created by spoken words.

2. Language instruction increasingly takes place outside of the traditional classroom setting. This does not make the class any less valuable, nor does it allow for ill-prepared or ill-equipped teachers. We note that the children quoted in the article were proud of their ability to interact with native speakers when their families traveled on vacation to Spanish-speaking countries. The children also enjoyed learning about different countries. Language instruction is about so much more than just how to say the words - it is a window into another way to think and see and be in the world, literally promoting an expanded world view in these fortunate young children.

Bravo to the LEE team for their accomplishment. We hope they will serve as inspiration to other communities.

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