Lower School Spanish

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A Peek Into The Spanish Classroom with a Taste From Chile By Pilar Arias

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A Peek Into The Spanish Classroom with a Taste From Chile 

By Pilar Arias

In these first months of the year, it’s been a gratifying experience to teach my native language and culture to the LS students. They have been enthusiastic and creative in their individual or group projects and more than anything, I see most of them curious about learning about other countries and cultures. It makes me glad when some groups inquire more about my country of origin; I see it as an avenue to share with them anecdotes from my school years and childhood, which they seem to enjoy.  I share with them things like the fact all students in Chile from private and public schools wear school uniforms. It’s an opportunity for them to compare their own culture with another to gain a deeper understanding about the world.  This is why using Venn Diagrams for comparing and contrasting is key in the Spanish classroom. On one occasion when I was showing a presentation on Chile’s Independence Day a 4th grader said to me “I think it’s interesting to learn about Chile because I don’t think I knew anything about Chile before” and later he added that he wanted to know more. I celebrate their interest and curiosity in exploring another Spanish-speaking country and culture. To learn a second language at a younger age is a rewarding and enriching experience that will add benefits and new opportunities to the outstanding education they are already receiving at Catlin Gabel.

Each time we meet, there is a significant amount of time dedicated to speaking and expressing themselves in the Spanish classroom.  My goal for them is to develop and enhance skills they have learned previously and use them to communicate with others, ask for information, and be able to engage in casual conversations.  This learning is supported with songs and cultural rhymes from Chile that carry new traditions and customs. Back in my country when I learned English it was mainly about translating and writing. I don’t remember speaking a single sentence or answering a question in English in my schooling days. For language acquisition to be effective, it has to be taught through a holistic approach trying to include as many experiential activities as possible that appeal to the senses and are concrete.  At the same time, these learning experiences have to support the development of the four language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing) to create retention, which allows students to make connections with the new information they are learning.

At the beginning of each class, starting in 2nd grade, students answer four or five questions from a list of questions written on a poster called “Questions You Know”.  These are questions that came up from the different contexts we have explored so far.  Children’s names are written on popsicle sticks and I select names at random during the week, so each child has an opportunity to answer these questions. The classroom walls are full of posters with hints and expressions that help children build up their answers.  To reinforce their answers, the latest poster is “The Most Common Errors When Speaking Spanish”, which shows sentences and expressions with students’ most common mistakes. The sentence with the mistake is circled, and next to it, the statement is written in the correct way. These lists of errors are being built from the students’ feedback from different grade levels. This poster is used as a reference, and as scaffolding for all grade levels.

To highlight some of the activities students have done so far, I would like to mention that first graders have been creating casual dialogues. In these dialogues they start greeting each other properly. The rug area, where we all meet, has many classroom items spread out that students can use and touch during these conversations. Then each child requests classroom items politely. The student uses the expression “por favor” (please) and makes the request saying the number, color, and the name of the object in Spanish. These are rather complex sentences for younger children, but first graders are doing a terrific job here. The best advantage they have, as being young children, is that they can mimic exactly what they hear and can produce new dialogues related to what they see around them.

Second graders
have been studying the forest, its living things and habitats with the advantage that they are learning the same topic in their homeroom.  The Spanish book “Quien vive Aqui?” (Who lives here?) written by Rozanne Lanczak was the starting point for this unit.  This fun book describes different animals and their habitats. This was complemented with a song about varied animals from the forest and the jungle named “Esta es la Historia de un Cocodrilo” (This is the story of a crocodile).  Then, they created a poster called “my forest” where they chose favorite animals, added rivers, trees, and plants. Later they shared their posters with the rest of the class.  In addition to that, we also had a walk to the school vegetable garden to draw a real tomato plant and its main parts to make it more experiential. They drew detailed pictures and later they labeled all the parts of a plant. All theses approaches help them retain the new Spanish vocabulary they are acquiring.

 

3rd graders have been working on a book about the four seasons of the year. Here they have described characteristics of each season including the weather. They have also played a game with the months of the year for each season. During the process of working on these little books they have had opportunities to share with others orally and in writing what characterizes each season with very good results. To add meaning to their learning, they have also completed Venn Diagrams comparing two seasons of the year using words and pictures.

4th graders are currently working on a geography project about the Spanish-speaking countries. Each student chose a Spanish-speaking country and they have been researching questions about them such as the flag, capital, continent, population, borders and so on.  We looked at bar graphs to compare the population in all twenty-one Spanish-speaking countries in the world, which they liked. Here one student said to me “Pilar, we are learning how to read graphs in homeroom, too.”  I thanked the child for sharing that with me. Then, they started to put together all this information and created a poster. The next step will be to visit the capital of the country through Google Earth and to create a brochure with a character that is highlighting the most important and fun information about the country.
 
5th graders have answered varied self-introduction questions, and with this information they later created a poster called “Who am I? (¿Quién soy yo?) to show identity in the Spanish classroom community. They have also created dialogues of casual conversations, which have been really impressive because many of them have included previous knowledge, which has enriched the context of the conversation.
 
In the Spanish classroom, students will go through the different stages in language acquisition, which translates into acquiring basic skills and expressions to convey   messages to others.  When learning a language, connections are key elements and it is very important that they adapt the new knowledge to what they have already learned in previous years. Language is dynamic and builds up with exposure and practice. My role is to use different strategies and methodologies to facilitate their learning so they can discover its real meaning and why it makes sense to be learning Spanish at Catlin Gabel. This ability to make adaptations and connections will allow students to transfer these new skills to real-life situations when they encounter Spanish-speaking people and environments.
 
Through this peek into the Spanish classroom I would like to say that the children are all that matters and as their teacher I see them every week walking the path of learning another language. I see their smiles when they have acquired new content and gain more and more confidence with the language. This is an important part of the learning process and adapting successfully to new situations.  Moreover, as a new teacher, I would like to say that I feel proud to teach Spanish at Catlin Gabel because it provides a chance for me to share about my country and culture with my students as well. Having a school community already established, I would like to contribute to developing in my students positive perspectives toward modern language learning and people from other cultures.

Practice the Spanish song for Revels!

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Practice the Spanish song!

Revels is next week. Here you can find a few files with the words and the song. Have fun!

MS student from Guatemala visits fourth grade Spanish.

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Fun visit from Guatemalan MS student

An exchange student from Guatemala visited our fourth grade class on Friday November 19th, 2010.

We learned about the Geography of Central America and about the "capiruchos", a toy the Mayans used to play with thousands of years ago. Then we got to make our own "capirucho"!

Now, that was a fun class!

Photo Gallery: 
Our exceptional MS exchange student quizzed our fourth graders on Central America and Caribbean geography
Our exceptional MS exchange student quizzed our fourth graders on Central America and Caribbean geography
¿Cuál es la capital de Guatemala?
¿Cuál es la capital de Guatemala?
We learned about Guatemalan history and culture
We learned about Guatemalan history and culture
He showed us a game Mayans used to play thousands of years ago...
He showed us a game Mayans used to play thousands of years ago...
...and then we got to make our own!
...and then we got to make our own!
"Capiruchos" is the name of the game.
"Capiruchos" is the name of the game.


Fun!
Fun!



Almost got it! ...it's not easy!
Almost got it! ...it's not easy!
















He also plays guitar!
He also plays guitar!




Can't wait to get it done so I can play!
Can't wait to get it done so I can play!
There... almost ready...
There... almost ready...







Guatemala MS exchange student visits third grade Spanish

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Third graders visited by MS Guatemala exchange student

On Thursday November 18th, our third graders had a pleasant surprise. One of our MS exchange students from Guatemala visited us and taught us about the "quetzal", the national bird of Guatemala. Then we got to build our own quetzal and we also got Guaemalan bookmarks and friendship bracelets! How fun!

Photo Gallery: 
We learned all about the "quetzal"
We learned all about the "quetzal"

Now, that's "attention"
Now, that's "attention"


Quetzal building!
Quetzal building!





































Thank you! Muchas gracias!
Thank you! Muchas gracias!
...wow... and we also got bracelets!
...wow... and we also got bracelets!

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Spanish 1

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¡Bienvenidos!

What a fun adventure it is to learn new languages!
Welcome to our first grade Spanish class.
 

Our first grade students are starting to build their arsenal of vocabulary words and expressions in Spanish with games, songs and projects. Classroom objects, greetings, colors, numbers, weather expressions and clothing... ask your kid about them! More information on curriculum contents coming up in our Moodle page.

 Please visit the link below to play with some fun review activities!

Quia.com for First Graders

 

Click here to visit our Moodle page (log in required)

LS Spanish Moodle

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Spanish 2

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¡Bienvenidos!

In second grade we continue to build up our vocabulary and expressions in Spanish.

To play with some fun review activities, please click the link below:

Quia.com for Second Graders

 

Click here to visit our Moodle page (log in required)

LS Spanish Moodle

Teachers: 

Spanish 3

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Bienvenidos - Welcome

Click here to play fun games and review everything we learn in class!

Quia.com for Third graders.

 

Click here to visit our Moodle page (log in required)

LS Spanish Moodle

Teachers: 

Spanish 4

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Spanish 4

Bienvenidos - Welcome

 
In 4th grade, we are starting our Storyline adventure. After having studied all Spanish speaking countries, students have worked on the number-gender adjective-noun agreement in Spanish. We have also worked on physical and emotional descriptions and some basic verbal work.
 
Now our students are building their characters following the descriptions they have previously written. Those characters will soon start traveling and having cultural adventures all over the Spanish speaking world.
 
Click here to play fun games and review everything we learn in class!

Quia.com for Fourth graders.

 

Click here to visit our Moodle page (log in required)

LS Spanish Moodle

 

Teachers: 

Spanish 5

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Spanish 5

Bienvenidos - Welcome


 
We are currently learning all three verb conjugations in Spanish and creating sentences with adverbs of time. The students are creating a game board that will help them have fun while practicing conjugations and making complex sentences.

We have recently added expressions of permission to our game boards ("Can I...?", "May we...?") and students are learning how to build sentences that have more than one verb.

 
Click here to play fun games and review everything we learn in class!

Quia.com for Fifth graders.

 

Click here to visit our Moodle page (log in required)

LS Spanish Moodle

Teachers: 

Spanish

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Welcome to Catlin Gabel!

Spanish

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Revels Song 2012

Hola amigos!

Here's the Spanish song (half in Spanish and half in Catalonian). Please listen to it (mp3 format) and practice it at home (lyrics included in PDF format). Revels is next week!

All files are at the bottom of this page. Have fun!

Lower School Spanish

"Learning to speak another language means taking one’s place in the human community. It means reaching out to others across cultural and linguistic boundaries. Language is far more than a system to be explained. It is our most important link to the world around us. Language is culture in motion. It is people interacting with people."
Sandra Savignon  Communicative Competence: Theory  and Classroom Practice. Reading, MA Addison Wesley, 1983, p. 187 .

 

Are there different programs for modern languages?

Yes. These are the most common ones:
1.      Immersion: provide instruction in the foreign language for at least 50% of the day (all subjects are taught in the target language). Goals: Good proficiency in the target language.
 
2.      FLEX or Exploratory: provide exposure of students to one or more languages or cultures. Minimal foundation in language learning. Goals: Limited or no proficiency in the target language.
 
3.      Sequential FLES (Foreign Language at the Elementary School): provides language instruction in the four communicative skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing). Provides long exposure to one language. Goals: Proficiency in the target language.

Which language program does Catlin Gabel offer?

Catlin Gabel provides a Sequential FLES program.
 

How often do students meet for language class?

Every grade meets three times a week for 40 minutes each class.
 

What are the goals for language learning?

Our goal is for our student to become proficient enough to pragmatically use in real life situations what they learn in the classroom. We teach students how to listen carefully, how to pronounce accurately, how to do some reading and writing and how to role-play cultural experiences by “being in foreign shoes”. Listening to a great deal of the target language is necessary before students can produce even small amounts of the foreign language.
 

What is the curricular foundation?

It’s what we call “the 5 C’s”:

Communication: Communicate in Languages Other Than English

1.1 Students engage in conversations, provide and obtain information, express feelings and emotions, and exchange opinions.
1.2 Students understand and interpret written and spoken language on a variety of topics.
1.3 Students present information, concepts, and ideas to an audience of listeners or readers on a variety of topics.

Cultures: Gain Knowledge and Understanding of Other Cultures

2.1 Students demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the practices and perspectives of the culture studied.
2.2 Students demonstrate an understanding of the relationship between the products and perspectives of the culture studied.

Connections: Connect with Other Disciplines and Acquire Information

3.1 Students reinforce and further their knowledge of other disciplines through the second language.
3.2 Students acquire information and recognize the distinctive viewpoints that are only available through the second language and its cultures.

Comparisons: Develop Insight into the Nature of Language and Culture

4.1 Students demonstrate understanding of the nature of language through comparisons of the language studied and their own.
4.2 Students demonstrate understanding of the concept of culture through comparisons of the cultures studied and their own.

Communities: Participate in Multilingual Communities at Home and Around the World

5.1 Students use the language both within and beyond the school setting.
5.2 Students show evidence of becoming life-long learners by using the language for personal enjoyment and enrichment.
 
 

Why learning a foreign language?

Children
  • Enjoy learning a foreign language
  • Are curious about strange sounds and secret codes
  • Are curious about customs in other countries
  • Are excellent mimics and are less self-conscious about using authentic pronunciation than adolescents or adults
  • Enjoy correlating the study of a foreign language with other areas of the school curriculum
  • Begin to master the sound system of the foreign language and develop a feeling of “at-homeness” with the language
  • Begin to comprehend that knowing a second language may help them in their future careers
 
Foreign language exposure
  • Helps them develop openness to other people, cultures and ways of life
  • Helps them attain greater academic achievement in other areas of study
  • Develops clearer understanding of the English language and greater sensitivity to structure, vocabulary and syntax
  • Improves knowledge of Geography
  • Improves their SATs (especially in the verbal area)
  • Fosters a sense of humanity and friendship
  • Increases students’ adaptability to different environments and modes of acting and thinking
  • Provides insights into the human mind and language itself
  • Develops the skills and habits essential to the learning process, creative inquiry and critical thinking
  • Leads the students to discover and examine their own personal values and civic responsibilities

 

 

Teachers: 

Lower School Languages

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The Lower School Philosophy of Modern Language Instruction

We believe that:

*Acquiring a second language emerges slowly and naturally, and at  different rates for different children.  

*Words and expressions must be taught in context, not in isolation. Children strive to MAKE SENSE out of new language instruction.

*Children go through several predictable stages as they acquire a second  language.

*Children acquire a second language through active engagement.

*The teacher's role is to encourage and guide the student to produce  language but should never force performance.

*Language is culture.

*The second language experience can contribute directly to the mastery of first language concepts in the curriculum.

*Elementary students who study another language gain insight and appreciate for other peoples and cultures and a better understanding of their own language and culture.

*Vocabulary should be taught in context, never in lists. Many repetitions  of vocabulary are necessary, in the same lesson and in subsequent  lessons. We believe this repetition should involve different modalities of learning to assist youngsters with different learning  styles.

*Using a "deductive" approach is more natural and holistic than teaching  grammar for grammar's sake.

*Using a variety of approaches, methods, materials, and strategies helps students acquire a second language and helps keep interest high.  

*Students who study another language show greater cognitive development in such areas as mental flexibility, creativity, divergent thinking, and higher order thinking skills.

*Our students will have a better chance at any job in the future if they  have knowledge of another language.

 

By Vicki Swartz Roscoe

Assistant Head of School and Head of Lower School, Catlin Gabel