FLES Update - January 9, 2018
Starting this school year, all 2nd and 3rd grade students in the Pelham Public Schools are receiving Spanish language instruction in their classes and school administrators report that the program is off to a successful start.
Speaking at the Jan. 9 Board of Education meeting, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Personnel Dr. Steven Garcia said that the stu
dents are making significant progress in their Spanish speaking skills after just four months of the Foreign Language Elementary School (FLES) program. Similarly, all four elementary school principals agreed that the program had produced a new excitement among their teachers and staff and that the students are excited about their language instruction.
“It’s not just about learning the words and the vocabulary, but it’s about immersing kids into the culture as well,” said Dr. Garcia, who credited the District’s two FLES teachers, Fran Corelli and Lauren Gobbo. “Finding good teachers is always a challenge, but finding great ones is beyond the pale. I think we’ve found great teachers.”
The FLES program, in which a dedicated Spanish teacher joins the students’ regular class for 30 minutes every other day, is designed to incorporate language instruction into the regular grade-level curriculum. This program, which was recommended by the World Language Task Force following more than a year of study, is the realization of a key action step in the District’s five-year Strategic Plan.
Ms. Gobbo and Ms. Corelli come to the District with experience building and teaching the FLES program in the Rye City School District. To build on the program’s successful start, it is anticipated that the Board will discuss possible expansion of the program into the fourth and fifth grades over time. As the implementation continues, the instructional team will also work to create a seamless transition between FLES and the foreign language curriculum at the Middle School while developing a system for monitoring individual students’ progress.
“The students are really soaking it up and it’s almost hard to keep up with them,” said Ms. Corelli, who teaches the program at Hutchinson and Colonial. “They are taking it in so fast that we have to be one step ahead of them and make the lessons challenging, fun and engaging.”
Ms. Gobbo said that the evolution of the students’ skills has been extraordinary.
“In the beginning of the year, we started off with greetings and basic conversational skills,” she said. “Since then we’ve moved to making content connections that are grade-level appropriate and after that we moved on to the alphabet and phonetics. The next step is the introduction of the written word, that’s really the next layer of the program.”