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Mineola Schools Weigh Options on Foreign Language Program

Foreign language would be taught twice a week in early grades.

As part of competing in a globalized society, foreign languages are being introduced to students at younger and younger grades. At its most recent meeting of the board of education, Mineola School Superintendent Dr. Michael Nagler gave a brief update on changes being made to the foreign language program for the 2011-12 school year.

Currently there are two main options for teaching foreign language at the elementary level: FLES (foreign language in elementary grades), where the children are taught the language as an everyday subject, and FLEX (foreign language experience) which is shortened exposure to multiple languages to help children decide what language they wish to study later in their academic careers. Currently the Oceanside, Garden City, Herricks, Carle Place and Jericho school districts have this latter program in place.

“Our teachers believe that that is not going to be the best way to teach a specific language,” Dr. Nagler said of the FLEX option. “It has value in and of itself, but its not teaching the language per se.”

Another alternative is the immersion program run in Herricks where half the day is taught in foreign language. However, the program requires teachers certified in both the language and subjects because they are being taught in the language.

Next school year foreign language teacher Laura Coppi will be at the while Stephanie Klein will be teaching at and on an alternate day schedule. Both teachers felt that classes once per week were insufficient and are opting for two to three sessions per week. As far as which language, both teachers are certified in Spanish, with Coppi also certified in French.

The teachers didn’t have a preference about either entering the classrooms as a push-in teacher or having students report to a different room for instruction, preferring to try both and make a recommendation in one year. “They’re treating this as ‘let’s jump in, lets see how it goes, but we really want to keep a pulse on how things go’,” Dr. Nagler said.

The program for 2011-12 would consist of meetings twice a week for 30 minutes each, one with no classroom teacher and one with a teacher present. The teachers have also requested form a committee of classroom teachers, parents and administrators to guide the program.

The program can be administered easily in the 2011-12 school year with kindergarten through second grade in one building, but “it’s the year after when our current K children get to Jackson so we have to plan for that,” Dr. Nagler said.

Vincent June 27, 2011 at 09:25 PM
Sounds to me like plenty more teachers will be added to the payroll.
Andrews Rd June 27, 2011 at 10:52 PM
Don't think we need this language program. I don't believe it is substantial enough of a program to go ahead with especially after reading the above article. Too vague of a plan that will eventually be dropped anyway. Put the money and effort somewhere else--like into a science/inquiry program in the Jackson grades or middle school. I feel this is where we lack substance. Not everyone has a "knack" for language, it is like art and music. Critical, inquisitive thinking, problem solving and the ability to collaborate are the skills these kids need. I suggest youread the article in Nagler's Notions: "In order for us to meet these new demands and to create a learning environment that children want to be a part of and grow, we need to change the way we do educate them. We are re-designing our schools with a new generation of learners in mind." " Jackson Avenue’s grade 3 & 4 building will be designed to build on the foundations of the ‘reading schools’. Jackson will become the “inquiry school’, where children use the tools/strategies they have acquired to ask questions and find the answers to their questions. Embedded in the inquiry school is teaching students how to think. The foundation of 21st century skills is based on the four “C’s”, Collaboration, Communication, Creative thinking and Critical reasoning. These skills must be taught and cultivated. " Now that's a "notion" that could be exciting and beneficial! : )
Vincent June 28, 2011 at 10:49 AM
Andrews Rd, Collaboration, Communication, Creative thinking and Critical reasoning. The foundation of 21st century. Sounds all well and good but wasn't this, in one form or another the basis of what schools were set up for many many years ago? However, it does sound more sophisticated.
Scout June 28, 2011 at 02:09 PM
The rationale for language programs in wealthy communities is to enable children to become the kind of adults who can enjoy and benefit from the culture—art, literature and so on—of other countries, including those they will travel to. Likewise, in more privileged communities, majoring in the classics or getting a doctoral, for example, in French literature is not seen as a crazy thing to do (this becomes moot, as more schools follow SUNY's lead and do away with those academic departments). And if there's an occupational benefit for those kids, it's couched in terms of envisioning them one day as MBAs, for example, seeking international business opportunities. I think there is a different connotation happening when we hear kids in Mineola taking language classes so they can "compete in a global society." I'm picking up more of a workforce development rationale—bilingual skills being the deal-breaker for employers considering applicants with equal skills for entry-level jobs—not that there's anything wrong with that! And whatever the rationale for language programs, I hate to see them go.

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