The positive long-term effects of Rye’s Foreign Language in Elementary Schools (FLES) program have been evidenced this year.
The positive long-term effects of Rye’s Foreign Language in Elementary Schools (FLES) program have been evidenced this year. FLES was implemented in 2007, when it was introduced to first-grade children. Now, those students are in seventh grade and they’re demonstrating remarkable levels of success and confidence in their Spanish classes, according to their teachers.
FLES, which is in place at all three elementary schools, provides an introduction to Spanish for students in grades 1-5. The curriculum is aligned with the New York State Standards and is also designed to support the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) skills that have been implemented in other subject areas, utilizing graphing, patterning, classifying, acute listening skills, geography skills, and global awareness.
The current seventh grade is the first class to have experienced FLES in its entirety. Middle School Spanish teacher Kristie Orlando-Bangali and Middle/High School Spanish teacher Dawn King recently led a presentation on the seventh-grade Spanish curriculum, discussing the effectiveness of the program, ways they have enhanced the rigor, and the enthusiasm students have for learning the language. In their discussion they cited many examples of how the FLES program sets an excellent foundation for children’s future language studies.
Mrs. Orlando-Bangali and Mrs. King described ways that the District’s first FLES students stand out in proficiency as an outcome of their early exposure to Spanish. “They have incredible auditory skills and a keen knowledge of nouns that we are able to broaden,” reported Mrs. Orlando-Bangali. “I find myself asking many students if they speak Spanish at home because they have an impressive pronunciation, which they picked up naturally through the FLES program.”
Mrs. King described the immersion approach, where classrooms are “Spanish-speaking-only” zones, prompting students to utilize the language and challenge themselves continuously. Both teachers shared examples of the excellent feedback they have received from students; many seventh graders have said that their Spanish has improved tremendously and that they are eager to speak the language outside of the classroom.
The seventh-grade Spanish curriculum was revised this year, with the changes geared toward longer-term retention of knowledge; emphasis on useful vocabulary related to many topics encountered in everyday life; and mastery of the present, present progressive, and simple future tenses. Communication is a key focus, with class lessons and activities including oral presentations, picture description, interviews, discussions and conversations with peers, skits, and simulated classroom dialogue.
According to the FLES department, “Rye’s philosophy is that an early start in foreign language learning can result in considerable levels of achievement and continued interest in languages and culture.” Based on the progress shared by the middle school teachers, it is proving to do just that!