Many of us remember the days of rote memorization, verb conjugation and endless grammar instruction in foreign language classes. Today’s foreign language classes are much different! In Wilmette, we have a focus on communication in all areas: reading, speaking, listening and writing, with an emphasis on listening and speaking in the early grades. Lessons are taught in Spanish for the entire class period, and students are expected to use the Spanish that they know to participate. Classes are fun and involve a variety of learning modes and differentiation strategies to include every type of learner.
Each class begins with a warm up. Warm ups last about 5 minutes and include a song, a calendar activity and sometimes even a book or a review game. This warm up helps students transition from the regular class to the Spanish class with relative ease.
After the warm up, students are introduced to new vocabulary through a variety of modes. Flashcards, songs, manipulatives, and vocabulary rich books are utilized during vocabulary introduction. Students practice the words aloud and learn to recognize them both in written and spoken language.
When new vocabulary has been introduced, it is time to use the new vocabulary during a game, a conversation or dialogue or another hands-on activity. Students practice the words and phrases orally and repeatedly so that the new information begins to become a part of their everyday Spanish vocabulary.
As the 20 minute class period comes to a close, the teacher wraps up the lesson by reviewing new and old vocabulary. Sometimes a book containing the important vocabulary words is read. Other times a song is sung to wind up the lesson. As the Spanish teacher leaves, the students are transitioned back to their regular classroom activities for the day.