Q: What is FLES? Why FLES?
A: FLES stands for Foreign Language in the Elementary School. It is frequent exposure to another language, in addition to the regular instruction. Students are taught in the target language for at least 30 minutes a class, at least 3 times a week by a proficient foreign language speaker. Watertown Public Schools chose FLES because a FLES program can reach all learners. Also, the FLES program not only promotes language growth, but research also shows that students’ performance on reading, writing and math assessments improves.*
The goals of the program are:
· Students will develop communication skills in a second language.
· Students will develop a respect, understanding and appreciation of other cultures.
· Content in other disciplines can be reinforced and enriched.
Q: What language is chosen? Why?
A: Spanish has been chosen as the language of instruction for FLES. Spanish was chosen for many reasons. Spanish is the largest spoken minority language among Watertown students. Spanish is the largest minority language spoken in the United States. Spanish is a great bridge language into other Latin-based languages (French, Italian, Romanian and Portuguese).
Q: How often will FLES instruction take place?
A: Daily for 30 minutes.
Q: Who delivers instruction?
A: A Massachusetts licensed k-4 and/or 5-12 Spanish Foreign Language teachers.
Q: Why are we starting in kindergarten?
A: The district chose to begin in kindergarten because the goals of the FLES program are closely related to the goals of the kindergarten curriculum. Research shows that younger children are more flexible with their thinking and are better able to learn a new language than older learners. Studies have indicated that early second-language learning promotes increases in cognitive benefits, academic achievement, self-esteem, creativity, and positive attitudes toward diversity.*
Q: My child is already learning another language at home. Won’t learning Spanish confuse her/him?
A: Actually research shows that the more languages we learn, the better. Young children’s brain are flexible and able to learn many languages at the same time.
Q: My child already speaks Spanish. Won’t s/he be bored?
A: The FLES program will integrate native Spanish speakers and provide instruction at their levels. This will be your child’s chance to shine and be an example for their classmates.
Q: What are the future goals of the program?
A: The district’s goal is to continue to expand FLES programing annually until K-5 implementation has occurred.
Q: Why is this program only starting in kindergarten? Why won’t it be offered to the other grades in the first year?
A: In order to best develop curriculum and ensure success for the long term, the district is focusing on one grade during the first year.
Q: In an already crowded elementary day, how do we make time for this program?
A: Time spent on certain activities and subjects will be reviewed. In order to not lose time for other subjects and activities, one of the FLES program’s goal is to help support and enrich the curriculum. Reallocating time for this program will benefit the cognitive development of students over the long-term.*
Q: What is being taken out of the current curriculum?
A: Although time will be allocated to the FLES program, the FLES program strives to support and enrich the curriculum. School schedules will continue to ensure that all learning objectives are fulfilled.
Q: What program/curriculum will be used?
A: A team of district staff comprised of elementary teaches, the World Language Coordinator, FLES teachers, and ELL teachers will develop the curriculum. The curriculum will support and enrich grade level concepts as much as possible through units of study.
Q: How will students be assessed?
A: Teachers will informally assess what students “can do” with the language to monitor progress through observation and class participation. During years 3 and 5, students will be assessed with national evaluations or district-created evaluations that assess language performance.
Q: Who will be in the FLES program?
A: All students will be able to participate in the general education classroom setting will participate in the FLES program.
Q: Where will the instruction occur?
A: All instruction will occur in the general education classroom taught by the licensed K-4 and 5-12 Spanish teacher.
Q: What are the future goals of the program?
A: The district’s goal is to continue to expand FLES programming annually until K-5 implementation has occurred.
Q: How will new students to the district are integrated into the FLES program?
A: Regardless of when students arrive in the Watertown Public Schools, they will participate with their grade-level classmates at their regular FLES time.
* For further research: http://www.actfl.org/advocacy/what-the-research-shows