Schools Try Elementary Approach To Teaching Foreign Languages

Maria Glod:

School systems across the Washington area are adding foreign language classes in elementary grades in response to a call from government and business leaders who say the country needs more bilingual speakers to stay competitive and even to fight terrorism.
Educators say that the youngest brains have the greatest aptitude for absorbing language and that someone who is bilingual at a young age will have an easier time learning a third or fourth language later on. Compared with adults or even high school students, young children are better able to learn German with near-native pronunciation or mimic the subtle tones of Mandarin.

3 thoughts on “Schools Try Elementary Approach To Teaching Foreign Languages”

  1. Early language instruction research has been intensifying over the past decade, with a number of studies indicating that instead of waiting until middle or high school to begin teaching a second or third language, schools should introduce language learning as early as possible. In NIH studies currently being conducted at several major universities, early evidence that children under 6 months of age who have language learning deficits can be identified with close to 90% accuracy (and then remediated), and other NICHD studies indicate that the brain is most capable of learning multiple phonemes that allow for multiple language fluency by the age of five if introduced systematically during the first five years from birth. At the web site: Brain, there are a number of articles and studies archived over the past several years that educators and parents can reference to learn more.

  2. Waunakee is introducing Spanish at the elementary level this year, beginning with grades 1 and 2. We have hired two elementary world language specialists this year and intend for the program to progess in grade going forward. This has been a discussed goal for a few years and we were fortunate to work this into the budget.
    We believe this will benefit our students.

  3. Hi Tim:
    Thanks for posting this news from Waunakee. One day, it would be great to see a curriculum grid that provides K-12 information across all Dane County schools.

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