Advanced Foreign Language
Advanced language courses include Chinese, French, German and Spanish. Each is a three-year, non-tracked course. Students who are in an advanced language course must have received previous instruction in this language during their lower school education. This advanced language is also used in social studies or mathematics classes. All language skills, receiving and producing (speaking, writing, listening, reading, interpreting images) are treated with equal importance in advanced language classes and are at the center of a program where language, literature, and an appreciation of the arts and culture are taught.
Throughout the three years in advanced language courses, students not only learn to communicate but communicate to learn. They increase the amount of language they know but are becoming more knowledgeable on the puzzle that the language itself is. The sixth grade program develops a solid foundation of skills that is reinforced throughout seventh grade and then strengthened and expanded in eighth grade as students engage with texts from different genres, times, places, cultures, geographical regions, historical periods and perspectives. A spiral approach to learning, where each year concepts are added upon and seen with more depth, is used by all language teachers. Specific language content is different for all languages and all skills are developed in each unit.
Advanced language programs are developed around three principles:
Students are able to function and communicate in daily life situations as well as learn another subject in the language (social studies and math).Advanced language social studies and math classes are taught by specialist teachers native in the language. All work is done in the advanced language and communication with the teacher and with fellow students in the class is in the advanced language. Written and spoken communication address audience and purpose, social codes as well as communication through the arts. An opportunity to travel to a country where the language is spoken allows students to use their language skills in an authentic setting.
Like in the foundation level classes, students are exposed to music, literature (contemporary and classical), visual arts, architecture, movies pertaining to the countries where the language they are using is spoken. Students continue to learn to understand cultural components and draw parallels between their own culture and that of the countries where the other languages are spoken. The literature used in the class may also rise global issues and/or universal values.The goal of the course is to bring out human commonalities throughout a variety of cultural settings
Students reflect on how the language works and how it relates to the other languages they already know or the new languages they are learning.Students are encouraged to bring in knowledge they may have in other subjects in the language class. Teachers provide a safe environment for students to take risks and demonstrate critical thinking skills throughout their language learning experience. The themes studies, novels read, arts the students are exposed to empower students to use the language to inquire and think as opposed to just learn the language.
Language learners at Gilkey International Middle School
- Interact, inquire, think and communicate in the languages they learn
- Speak up, use the language , take risks and improve from errors
- Demonstrate curiosity and an open mind for the world and its diverse cultures
Aims and objectives
In order for students to:
- Continue using languages effectively, as a means of practical productive, receptive and interactive communication in a variety of contexts, for different purposes and with different audiences
- Develop increased multiliteracy skills ( oral, visual and written)
- Continue to develop skills to construct and express meaning
- Deepen their understanding of the nature of language and the process of language learning,
- Demonstrate an understanding of how the linguistic elements of the language work in relation to each other (grammar, cognates, functions) and other languages,
- Develop a growing appreciation of literature, arts and culture of the communities where languages are spoken and develop understanding of perspectives from people of another culture
- Articulate language effectively for practical communication as well as interpretation or analysis, demonstrating understanding of audience, purpose and social codes tied to languages
- Develop a desire to understand the world and get involved with different communities
- Hold Informal as well as formal oral communications and presentations within the class. Oral activities, role plays, debates, discussions, literature circles, improvisations, formal presentations are activities used by all language teachers. Accurate pronunciation, intonation and pace as well as sentence structure and use of accurate vocabulary share their place in the course.
- Develop their listening comprehension skills such as comprehension of a movie, a song or a TV shows. Informal listening is an integral part of the program since all communication occurs in the advanced language.
- Write frequently and in connection with topics and/ or novels addressed in the class. Students are expected to follow the writing process ( multiple drafts, revising, editing, publishing) , meet the requests of a specific style, write at their level(from complete basic correct sentence structures in grade 6 and showing developing mastery of complex sentences by grade 8). Audience, purpose and the different styles of writing are addressed across the three years : narrative, expository, argumentative, creative. Language mechanics and style are part of each writing assignment
- Continue to read a variety of authentic material. Novels, poems, songs, short stories and excerpts of literary texts are a support for all units of works . The goal is for the student to develop reading strategies, improve literal comprehension and move on to literary appreciation of the genre and style. Students read classic literature as well as contemporary pieces originally written in the language or occasionally translated in the language.
- Work on style and language mechanics: use language to narrate, describe, analyze, explain, argue, persuade, inform, entertain and express feelings, use language accurately; use appropriate and varied register, vocabulary and idiom; use correct grammar and syntax; use appropriate and varied sentence structure; use correct spelling.
- Describe and analyze images and visual texts which bring a cultural component to the language class and lead to enriching discussions and deep learning. Visual communication encompasses all aspects of viewing and presenting. Viewing and presenting means interpreting or constructing visuals and multimedia in a variety of situations and for a range of purposes and audiences. They allow students to understand the ways in which images and language interact to convey ideas, values and beliefs. Visual texts present information: learning to interpret this information and to understand and use different media are invaluable skills.Students learn how to look at and analyze images, they develop strategies to show understanding and interpretation of images.
At the Gilkey International Middle School teachers commit to a variety of summative assessments tasks clearly tied to learning objectives, skills and criteria. Before an assessment or along with it, teachers will hand out clearly described tasks and criteria for assessment. All units of work include formative assessments leading to the summative piece.
Sequence of Units
Teachers of all languages work collaboratively to develop units of work centered around universal themes or issues. All units are constructed from a central big idea and skills addressed in the units are similar lfor all languages. Each individual language content together with cultural components are weaved in by each teacher. The order in which units are introduced may vary with each language as they differ in their language content. Grammar, vocabulary, sentence structures, functions are integral to each unit.