The goal of foreign language study is communication. In the various courses we develop the basic skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. Can the student make an articulate sentence that can be understood by a native speaker? This is certainly encouraged in the foreign language classroom – students learn basic sentences, and through repetition and substitution drills they can expand their knowledge and vocabulary. They are encouraged to initiate conversation rather than just answering questions initiated by the teacher. Various listening exercises are done daily in class. Teachers use various outside sources for reading, speaking and listening.
These objectives are achieved by using authentic resources including on line print, audio-visual, and traditional print resources such as magazines, newspapers, and short stories. There is also a cultural component emphasizing life and values of the native speakers.
We continue to have lots of fun while learning in Spanish 1! Students are building their vocabulary at a rapid pace using engaging techniques such as TPR (Total Physical Response), in which students act out new words by following the teacher’s commands. This can sometimes lead to crazy games of ‘Simón dice’. It is tremendously rewarding to see how students (with no prior knowledge of the language) are now able to have a basic conversation in Spanish about their daily school routines, likes and dislikes, clothing, and their friends and family. Students have enjoyed presenting their projects on what their lives would be like if they lived in a Spanish speaking country. They recently used technology to complete a slide presentation entitled ‘¿Quién soy yo?’ in which they wrote about their personal and physical characteristics, their interests and their families. ¡Qué divertido!
We recently finished a unit on food and art. In class we learned the difference between traditional and modern art and focused on two Spanish artists: Pablo Picasso and Diego Velázquez. Students worked in groups to complete travel brochures about cities in Spanish-speaking countries they wish to visit. They discussed the various points of interest, customs and local Jewish communities. They were also required to explain how one navigates through the airport, the various check-in points, baggage requirements, and security process. Our students’ cooking skills were also showcased as they directed and starred in their own cooking videos. We are now finishing up a unit on the media. Much of class time is spent discussing current national and international events in the news in Spanish. In addition, to bring together the theme of media and an amazing week of Shiriyah, students recently completed articles and ‘live’ broadcasts from the hallways of Frisch.
We are continuing to cover Latin American authors such as Miguel Unamuno, Eduardo Galeano, and Gabriel García Marquéz whose short stories have led us to explore issues regarding underdevelopment in Latin America. Students have been perfecting their writing skills and recently wrote, directed and presented an original play. In addition, we have been reviewing old grammatical concepts such as ‘ser’ and ‘estar’ and stem-changing verbs and learning new ones such as the future and conditional tenses.
The Spanish 4 AP class has covered numerous topics this year. We started with food during which students wrote, produced and starred in their own cooking shows. We moved on to health and medicine where students presented dialogues on different health-related scenarios, read and presented articles on various current health topics in the news, and completed online surveys on health issues such as heart disease. Our current topic, ‘La identidad’ has us watching several videos about the life and identity of Latinos in America which has led to discussions on immigration and language. In addition, since we normally take time to discuss the Jewish holidays when they come up, this past week we spent part of a class talking about the meaning and rituals of Tu B’Shvat.
This year saw the inception of our new Spanish Club. We are planning an educational trip to the Hispanic society of NYC and planning fun activities as we explore the varied cultures of the Spanish- speaking world.
French 1 is enjoying the opportunity to communicate by discussing days, seasons, time, food, activities, colors and many other major topics necessary for communication. To reinforce numbers, we play bingo. To reinforce classroom directions and parts of the body, students participate in a good game of “Jacques a dit” (Simon says). Students made power point presentations introducing their families and friends . They described them using newly learned vocabulary
Students in level two French are continuing to build upon skills learned in level one. Students have been involved in many of the same activities only at a higher level. They recently wrote an essay in the past tense and continue to present original dialogues using the target language. They examine on-line dialogues thus enriching their ability to learn everyday French. Their favorite activity is to learn French songs and jingles which reinforce the facility of the language. The class was exceptionally enthusiastic about sending Hannukah
greetings in French.
As expected, students continue to build on skills learned in previous levels. Many more class conversations about likes, dislikes, daily activities and future goals. We have read some short stories and continue to review native speaker situations on line. We have used a website which presents news in slow French. Students will be working on presenting “TV commercials” and they are looking forward to writing their own individual fairy tale using past tense of verbs which they have just mastered.