Students choose a beginning language when they start sixth grade and continue the study of this language until the end of eighth grade.
All language skills, receiving and producing (speaking, writing, listening, reading, interpreting images) are treated with equal importance in beginning languages. A spiral approach to learning , where each year concepts are added upon and seen with more depth, is used by all language teachers, thus leading to more elaborate, complex, and sophisticated interactions and productions. Grammar, pronunciation, intonation, vocabulary, functions, specifics of each language (conjugations, agreements, cases, tones) are part of the course. A communicative approach to language learning and teaching is used, students both express and construct meaning
Choices for beginning languages include: Chinese, French, German, and Spanish. At the end of the three years, students can choose to present the levels A1-B1 of the European Council of Europe (capable communicators)
The beginning language programs are developed around the three principles.
- Communication: By the end of eighth grade students are able to function and communicate in daily life situations: school, family, relationships with people, public places. An opportunity to travel to a country where the language is spoken allows them to use their language skills in an authentic setting. Classes are taught by a native speaker
- Global awareness: By the end of the eighth grade, students have acquired a foundation knowledge of the culture and arts of the countries in which the languages they are learning are spoken. Students are exposed to music, literature, visual arts, architecture, movies as well as linguistic and cultural differences amongst regions or countries. Students learn to understand different social codes , cultural differences and draw parallels between their own culture and that of the countries where the other languages are spoken.
- Holistic education: All three years students reflect on how the new language works and how it relates to the languages they already know. 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 throughout their language learning .
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
- Be able to use 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 multiliteracy skills ( oral, visual and written)
- Be able to understand the nature of language and the process of language learning
- Get insights in the cultural characteristics of the communities where languages are spoken and develop awareness and understanding of perspectives from people of another culture
- Develop curiosity, a lifelong interest and enjoyment in language learning
- Become interested in involvement with different communities.
- Be exposed and take part on a regular and frequent basis in interactions, conversations, skits and interactions with each other and the teacher . All areas of spoken language are addressed starting in sixth grade: accuracy of vocabulary and sentence structures, register, pronunciation,intonation respect of social codes . Both teacher and student use the target language as much as possible starting in sixth grade . Pair activities, memorization, improvisation, games are activities used by all language teachers. Starting in 6th grade, accurate pronunciation plays an important part in the class . Vocabulary is learned with a thematic approach.
- Develop more acute listening skills Because native speakers teach our students and use the language in a consistent manner; students exercise and sharpen their listening skills on a daily basis. The use of tapes, videos, movies, songs and peer activities reinforce the listening skills.
- Communicate in writing.Writing is an ongoing process tied to each topic learned. Students are expected to write at their level, in complete basic correct sentence structure from the beginning of sixth grade,providing relevant ideas, details, conventions. A variety of formats is used according to the purpose of the writing. New writing systems are introduced from the beginning of 6th grade( Mandarin Chinese). Writing activities may include: invitations, description of people, postcards, letters, menus, description of illustrations, simple stories, short story books, flyers, cross-word puzzles..
- Develop strategies for reading for specific information, ideas, opinions, main ideas, supporting details, conclusions. Develop an appreciation for literary and non -literary texts. Develop a sense of format, audience and purpose. The use of authentic material for comprehension or reading aloud, is an important aspect of reading and adds a cultural component to the course. Posters, receipts, ads, newspapers and magazine articles, schedules (shows, movies, classes) , poetry, songs, as well as stories originally written in the language can be used at each level.
- Develop strategies for interpreting images. Students will have multiple opportunities to develop their understanding of visual messages and conventions interpretation and communication skills using relevant images and art work. Demonstrating and communicating understanding of a visual text is part of developing the language as well as development of critical thinking skills and have an important role in the language class.
Students are continually presented with clear information about the objective of each task and how their work with be assessed. These assessments are given with different requirements and under a variety of conditions in order to develop a strong fluency in the various skills required to perform tasks such as writing under test conditions, on word processors, handwritten, time and untimed, formal writing process, and improvisational as well as rehearsed writing and speaking. All skills of reading, writing, listening, speaking and interpreting visuals are assessed in each unit of work.
Sequence of units
All languages use the framework below. All skills are developed in each unit of work and assessment tasks are similar for all languages. The summative assessment tasks are developed collaboratively by the teachers and given to all students in their respective target language. The order of units will change according to the language and the language content progression that makes sense for this language.