The Elementary Spanish Program is an educational option for elementary students that provides rich exposure to the Spanish language and culture. Students receive an extended weekly experience for age appropriate and grade level engagement with Spanish in an immersion-like environment.
Our approach enables children to acquire the language instead of learning it. To help students acquire Spanish, we utilize TPRS (teaching proficiency through reading and storytelling). This includes:
- Personalized Questions and Answers – promote conversational skills
- Movie Talk and Circling – using movies to tell stories and encouraging students to imagine and create a story of “what will happen” in order to increase vocabulary and language concepts
- Immersive Environment – we speak Spanish 90% of the time in the classroom
- No memorization or grammar to learn!
If children are to become bilingual and be able to speak like an educated native speaker, they need to be in an environment surrounded by Spanish in a natural and meaningful way. In 1991, a study by Johnson and Newport showed that there is a critical period for acquisition and that learners’ capabilities for acquiring syntax (grammatical structure) and phonology (the way a language sounds) decline with age. So the earlier a child starts to learn a foreign language, the higher the level of proficiency that child is likely to achieve.
Age Level Appropriate Acquisition
In preschool, PreK, kindergarten, and first grade students are learning to master English and are introduced to Spanish through an immersive environment. Young children acquire language through engaging stories, songs, and play, so the emphasis is placed on story telling, short videos, songs, and games. This promotes basic listening skills and begins to develop vocabulary. Students are also introduced to beginning Spanish phonics and reading skills along with numbers and basic math concepts appropriate to their age.
Students grades 2-5 build upon these foundations. The focus at this level is on strong age-appropriate reading skills through reader’s theater, fun games, “movie talk,” and novels.
In a way similar to how children learned English, we “shelter” our language by limiting it so Spanish that students know. Throughout the school year, this vocabulary grows and develops as they are naturally introduced to new concepts and words. In this manner, students begin to acquire the language organically rather than memorizing vocabulary and studying its grammar.
Students in grade 6 continue to build on previous years’ knowledge while we prepare them for Fast Track Honors Spanish in junior high.
Early Foreign Language Learning
- promotes interest in other cultures
- improves command of English
- promotes a positive self-image
- opens the door to learning a 3rd or 4th language
- takes advantage of a crucial “window of opportunity” while children’s ears are most receptive to 2nd language learning
In Other Countries
- all children learn languages as part of their regular curriculum
- the Council of Europe’s goal is to begin a second language by grade 3
- children often begin a third language by the age of 13
- over 75% of the world’s population functions in more than one language on a daily basis
- students can be found as young as 2nd grade learning three, four, or even five languages
What Parents Say
“My husband asked my son, ‘¿Qué hora es?’ Without even thinking, he popped up and ran to the clock to see what time it was. There was no process time, he simply knew what to do! Amazing!” ~ Jill H.
“My daughter’s eyes have been opened not just to language, but to a whole new cultural world!” ~ Ryan H.
“It’s amazing how quickly my son has learned only being in class for four months.” ~ Christina W.