LAND O’ LAKES — This fall, Pasco eSchool will be among countless schools nationally implementing language courses for elementary-age students.
The program, called “Language Clubs,” is the result of a partnership with Middlebury Interactive Languages to launch online world language courses for elementary-age students.
“The research about language acquisition supports that younger students are able to acquire second and third languages more readily so we think it’s a good age range,” said Pasco eSchool principal JoAnne Glenn. “Foreign languages are not a normal part of the district’s elementary program at this time.”
Numerous studies show the benefits of knowing second and third languages. Students learning foreign languages regularly score higher on standardized tests than their peers and show high levels of critical thinking and creativity. In a Duke University Identification Program newsletter for parents of gifted youth, Martha G. Abbott, Director of Education for the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages , advocated for early language instruction.
“It is critical that foreign language instruction be available to all students throughout their Pre-K-12 academic experience,” Abbot wrote.Glenn said participation in the language clubs will help the district collect information that will be used to expand the program in the future and possibly create a new magnet school based on global language instruction for the county.
The first program is six-weeks long and starts on Nov. 11. Club members, students in grades K-5 who have registered and paid the fee to participate, will benefit from fun, interactive and language-rich activities in a virtual group setting for the language they chose, Spanish or French.
Students will attend weekly online club sessions, led by Middlebury Interactive Virtual Club facilitators, where they explore the language and culture through games, songs and activities while learning to express themselves using simple words and phrases. Lessons and activities focus on what students can do in the target language, building their confidence and providing opportunities for them to demonstrate their progress in a downloadable portfolio to print and share with family and friends.
“It is going to use webinar software that the students will use to interact with the language club facilitator, a certified teacher, via webcams and real-time audio and chat,” Glenn said. If the interest is there, Glenn said, the district will add a spring course that will possibly add Chinese to the list of languages students can choose to study. In addition, more days and times to better fit the busy schedules of today’s working parents and children, who often have extracurricular activities on top of schoolwork.
“We thought if we offered the language club model first to gauge interest, it could lead to us adding a formal longer term course as a part of our regular program,” Glenn said.
Enrollment in a Middlebury Interactive online course is included with club participation so students can continue their language learning adventure. From K-2, Spanish will be taught at 4:30 p.m. Wednesdays, and French will be taught at 4:40 p.m. Thursdays. For grades 3-5, Spanish will be taught at 3:30 p.m. Wednesdays, and French will be taught at 3 p.m. Thursdays.
The fee to enroll, $103.25, includes a convenience charge for online payment.
To learn more, visit http://eschool.pasco.k12.fl.us. The program is available to any interested family and students are not required to be Pasco County residents or affiliated with the school district or Pasco eSchool in any way.