At first I was simply angry that the Spanish program at Evans Elementary was characterized in a The News-Times story as not a true foreign language program. Then I realized that you have no idea what you are talking about.
We have a FLEX program at Evans Elementary, which is Foreign Language Exploratory. This is a legitimate alternative when one is not afforded the opportunity to have a FLES program.
In 1999 we were cleared to have one part-time Spanish teacher at Evans Elementary. Knowing that our time together was limited to three lessons in a two-week period, I set out to choose the activities that would most benefit all of my children in the study of Spanish. Over the last three years I have taught more than 500 students each week, floated to 25 classrooms with all of my materials, teaching 10 classes a day. I did this because foreign language must be taught at an early age to maximize the benefits and gains of doing so.
I shuddered when I was told that someone from Stevens Creek said, If we had to do what your school is doing, we would rather have nothing. I thank you for implying that what I do is worth nothing.
I am very proud of all of my students. We have learned and retained a fine basic vocabulary and gained a cultural awareness. We have learned songs and read many books in Spanish. They have fine pronunciation and intonation when they speak. They approach new material with enthusiasm and curiosity. They are not fluent but they will be one day, if they choose, because I have laid a foundation for that.
The issue is not who has the perfect program, the most money or the best contacts. The issue is that foreign language must be introduced during the years of acquisition (ages 2-9) and we are doing a disservice to all students everywhere by ignoring this valuable window of opportunity. In addition, if foreign language is taught properly it enhances and reinforces regular classroom instruction. A FLEX program in every school can easily be afforded and should be enough to begin meeting these needs.
Please do not dishearten my students by saying that what they have been learning is not real or worthy. What will they begin to think about all they have accomplished after reading in your paper that we did not have a real foreign language program? Weve simply had quality vs. quantity at our school.
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