Kids are never too young to learn a new language, and elementary school students are benefiting from instruction that will be available to them in a voluntary before and after school program.
Before and after school instruction will be available to elementary school students on a voluntary basis in Pinellas County, Florida. The students will begin with Spanish, and the curriculum will be structured like a district academy program. The program will be available within the next month at 10 elementary schools.
The Spanish Language Academy for School and Home (SPLASH) will meet once a week at the start for an hour long lesson before or after school. According to Jan Kucerik, pre-K-12 world languages specialist, students will learn from the curriculum already in use at the two magnet schools in the district. They will also practice at home with videos and materials that are “parent friendly”.
“This is something I’ve always dreamed about trying to do in a district,” Schools Superintendent Michael Grego said. “This is the right age group to learn a language, but there’s no support from the state for more foreign language programs. I think this is worth a shot, and I have very high hopes.”
The hope is that the program will eventually involve honors students in high school as teaching assistants, and also include other languages such as French and Chinese.
“We have learned from our magnet school language programs that when students have daily access to the language they acquire proficiency quite quickly,” Kucerik said. “It also helps with their other academics.”
The planned program will run for 24 weeks, from September to April. Schools will be selected based on the level of interest, and the availability of foreign language teachers near the school. Also taken into consideration will be if the school already has a similar program. “We would prefer it not compete with existing programs,” Kucerik said.