I had coffee yesterday with two moms who have children in middle school. Like me, their children attended an elementary school that did not have foreign language enrichment, such as immersion, FLES, or bilingual. We all admitted that we did not pay much attention to this topic during our middle school tours, and our middle school choices did not involve foreign language considerations. They are frustrated with the middle school that their children are attending because it has an immersion-language pathway, BUT DOES NOT OFFER A LANGAUAGE ELECTIVE FOR GENERAL EDUCATION STUENTS. Their middle school has qualified foreign-language faculty, yet these teachers are not utilized to offer a foreign language elective to interested students. Discussions with the principal and staff have led nowhere.
Immersion-language instruction is a major consideration for the current K-8 feeder pattern proposal. The District has floated a few ideas, including the creation of a 7th period (at a cost of millions of dollars), so language instruction will impact all of us, even if only indirectly.
This got us thinking out loud, “Why do we need another period for immersion-language instruction, and who should have access to foreign language instruction?”
If students want to continue their foreign language instruction in middle school, then why isn’t it offered as an elective within the standard 6-period day? Students who elect to continue language-immersion instruction should be allowed to take this language elective in lieu of the standard menu of electives (i.e., in place of band, orchestra, drama, visual arts, etc.); in other words, students can have one or the other but not both (i.e., no district spending for a 7th period).
These moms further suggested that any middle school that offers an immersion pathway should offer an introductory elective in the same foreign language for general education students, like their children, who did not have access to foreign language instruction in K-5. Again, the introductory language classes would be offered as an elective in place of band, orchestra, drama, visual arts, etc. (i.e., no 7th period).
Maybe these are good ideas, maybe not. Maybe you have alternate suggestions. Community Forums to discuss the K-8 feeder pattern proposals begin tonight at Denman Middle School (starting at 5:30 PM). Come out and let your opinions be heard.