The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Bringing foreign language to elementary school children

University students enrolled in the course Education Studies 437 have begun teaching foreign language to elementary school kids in the Eau Claire area. Teaching Foreign Language in Grades 1-8, the course headed by Paul Hoff, offers six lessons, each 40 minutes long, in Spanish, French or German to local children.

The course focuses on methods used in teaching foreign language to young kids, said Julie Rozanski, a senior English and French education major enrolled in the course. They studied the different foreign language programs and the way children learn at each age group, Rozanski said. The student teaching began on April 4, and the teachers had to put what they learned in action with the kids, she said.

“I’m learning a lot about kids,” Rozanski said. “We get taught in our methods courses about all of the developmental stages, but we don’t get to see it in action.”

For Rozanski, the class is a good way to get experience teaching younger students, she said because her student teaching hours will take place in middle and high schools. Her group of students consists of seven first and second grade girls. She said her lesson plans for this age group are a lot different than those she would prepare for a different grade level.

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“There have been a lot of studies showing that learning through song is the best way to learn key phrases, so my plan was to teach one song per class period,” Rozanski said. “I like to do games because they are first and second graders and they’re not going to want to sit there and watch you.”

Amy Sires, a senior elementary education and French education double major, is also enrolled in the course. She is teaching a group of third through fifth graders and said it is important to focus on aspects the kids will be interested in. The theme of her lessons is a “trip around the French speaking world,” she said.

“A lot of people think French is only spoken in Canada and in France, but there are 30 countries in Africa alone that speak French,” Sires said. “So I thought it would be interesting to get kids to see that French is useful too and that Spanish is not the only useful language in the world.”

That kind of realization is important for developing youth, Sires said. It is important to be introduced to other languages, she said and it was her goal to plant an interest in French in her students.

“I want these kids to want to take French once they get to the age where they can choose,” Sires said. “And even if they don’t chose to go on with it, just having exposure to another language and realizing it is attainable to speak another language … is really important.”

Kelly Aspeslet, a German education major, said the experience is just as important for the college students as the elementary students. She said the class has shown her there are more possibilities in the education world than she originally thought. It also has forced her to think about the differences between different age groups, she said.

“When I started my education experiences here, I’d always pictured myself teaching middle school or high school and this class is focused on younger students,” Aspeslet said. “You really have to think in a whole different way and how can we create learning for students that are so young.”

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Bringing foreign language to elementary school children