The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, April 6, 2001


Carlisle school foreign language curriculum is alive and well

The foreign language curriculum is alive and well in the Carlisle Middle School, Foreign language and French teacher Nicole Baker told the Carlisle School Committee on Tuesday evening, March 20. Spanish teacher Drea Zollo was not able to attend the meeting.

Two languages in the fifth grade

Language instruction for fifth graders is called the Flex Program. The students have language class one day a week and become exposed to two languages, Spanish for one half of the year and French the other. Baker said that in the fifth grade the curriculum primarily focuses on learning vocabulary, facts, songs, and literature of the two languages. There is also an emphasis on the culture, customs and countries of the French and Spanish people.

After the fifth grade, students choose which language they wish to study for the rest of their middle school years. Meeting three times a week in their sixth, seventh and eighth grades, students are exposed to a curriculum which includes formal language instruction, actively speaking French or Spanish, reading related literature and learning about other cultures, countries and world geography.

In the sixth grade the curriculum is expanded for the students to learn greetings, commands, colors, and types of foods. "The students," said Baker," learn more grammar and the conjugation of a regular verb. They also become acquainted with the geography, customs and the culture of the people in either Spain or France."

By seventh and eighth grade the budding linguists are able to give directions, express emotions, cook foods and converse in their language. They learn adverbs and more complex grammatical configurations, translate letters, read more in class, and continue studying cultures. Sometimes students work in pairs, engaging in dialog and interviewing each other. Baker descibed one project where students bring their own baby picture and write a description of themselves. The picture and text are posted for others to read and guess the name of person. In another project, the international café, poetry is read, songs and dances are performed and appropriate food is served.

Coordination with Concord and CCHS programs

With close collaboration between French and Spanish teachers both language programs cover the same ground. According to Baker, Carlisle teachers also collaborate with language teachers in the Concord Schools and Concord-Carlisle High School (CCHS), ensuring that Carlisle students will enter the high school well-prepared to continue their chosen language. At CCHS students also have the option to switch to Latin or Chinese.

CSC Member Cindy Nock asked how the students were doing in the high school. Baker replied, "The placement exam which is given to all the middle school students is extremely important. Nothing is perfect. We have to mold the curriculum as we go along." She went on to say that success depends on the maturity of the student. Some children do well in the readings and writings and others do well in the cultural aspects. Some do well in the chosen language but some prefer to start over once they reach the high school.

To help in the language placement process Nock encouraged the language teachers to listen to the observations made by the Carlisle students once they reach the high school. Acting chair of the CSC Suzanne Whitney Smith said she was impressed with the amount of coordination the language teachers have with CCHS.

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