Many public schools around the United States are beefing up their language immersion program to prepare students for the future, and the situation is the same in Wyckoff, North Jersey where the school board is looking at options to improve their foreign language program.
The Wyckoff school district, which is located in Bergen County, New Jersey is looking at several options to expand the district’s world language program in their elementary schools, to enable their students to improve their fluency and understanding of the second language they are learning.
Under the district’s current foreign language program, the students receive 30 minutes of instruction every school day for a period of two weeks. This mode of instruction is repeated four times a year for a total of 40 classes for the entire school year.
Diane Schulthes, the Director of Curriculum and Instruction presented four options to the school board during their December 15 work session meeting. The options will allow the students to achieve a novice-mid level proficiency by the time they finish Grade 5. This proficiency level is defined by the Department of Education as the level wherein the students are able to communicate by using phrases and words they have memorized. They are able to talk about topics related to the community, their home and their school.
Ms. Schulthes recommended that the district should hire three new teachers who would be assigned to each elementary school exclusively. This would enable the school to expand the hours of instruction. Consequently, the foreign language teacher could collaborate with the classroom teacher on other academic disciplines. The option would likewise allow the instruction of the Spanish language to students in Grade 2.
In her recommended model, the students in Grades 1 to 3 would receive instruction for one or two days each week or about 40 to 60 minutes per week. On the other hand, instructions for those who are in Grades 4 and 5 will be longer. They would have a total of 60 to 80 minutes of instruction twice a week.
The plan only involves the instruction of Spanish language in the elementary level and she said it would be better if they would be able to hire teachers who are certified as bilinguals.
Her proposal will be presented to the public during the scheduled meeting on February 9, 2015.
According to Ms. Schulthes there will be no changes in the foreign language program currently running at Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School. Students here who are in Grades 6 to 8 can chose among Spanish, Italian or French languages.
There are also ongoing collaborations between the middle schools and high schools in Indian Hills and Ramapo. Instructors from the schools observe each other’s foreign language classroom instructions so they can see the students’ fluency. The collaboration would be of great help to students who will be entering high school.
Teaching the Spanish language at elementary school level in the district was based on the fact that most of the middle school students are enrolled in classes in Spanish.