Letter from Ms. Koski Sept. 1, 2011
Hola Parents, September 1, 2011
I am Señora Koski; I’ve been invited to teach the 2/3 split classroom as well as the 3rd through 5th grade students Spanish at Willow Hill. As a district, we are excited to be rolling out a brand new program that will give students exposure to a second language, to other cultures and to other peoples. Second language learning before middle school has been proven to increase the neural pathways in the brain, allowing children enhanced performance in other areas such as reading and math. More importantly, students experience the joy of speaking another language.
Our new program is called Risas y Sonrisas. (www.spanishforkids.com). It has been well designed and we are working closely with the author to provide students with a top notch experience. Your student will have Spanish class at school two times a week for 30 minutes. Additionally, students will log onto the Spanish Online Link twice a week at home. The Spanish Online Link reinforces classroom learning and offers the crucial repetitions needed for your student to learn new words. The online program provides as many repetitions as a student seeks. This online opportunity will also give you, the parent, access to the songs and topics we are learning. The more you share the language at home, the more success will result. Watch for details coming home on how to access the Spanish Online Link- SOL.
Silent Period. Please consider the following: Remember back to when your child was learning the word “belly button”. You spoke the word many, many times, kissed that little belly many, many times and asked your child to “show grandma your belly button,” many times before the child ever repeated the word. This is called the “silent period.” Your child will pass through this stage in Spanish as well. I will not expect your child to repeat words out loud. Students will not be forced to speak. Experience shows they will begin to speak eventually.
Risas y Sonrisas utilizes American Sign Language (ASL). This form of “speaking” will be expected. In the first weeks, you could ask them to show you the vowels in sign language. We will be learning them in ASL and Spanish simultaneously. There will be signs for most of our vocabulary. Children are often more comfortable repeating signs before speaking the words. NOTE: I will ask students NOT to translate to English, if at all possible. I encourage them to draw pictures for parents or use pantomime when asked to translate. The students get much farther at a faster pace by not translating to English. In the classroom, I try to use images or gestures rather than using the English translation.
Finally, I’d recommend a half inch three ring binder with a plastic sleeve on the front. We will use these as “white boards,” name tags and to store the materials from Spanish class, such as the log of their online time. Last week the binders were priced half as much at Target than Staples or Meijer’s.
Gracias por esta oportunidad! I very much look forward to meeting and learning with your student. Thank you for sharing them with me.