Falmouth Elementary School students becoming immersed in Spanish

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FALMOUTH — A new Spanish immersion club at Falmouth Elementary School is designed to give students a chance to socialize, play games, make friends and build literacy in Spanish.

“We will chat, play games, read and watch short, age-appropriate programs, entirely in Spanish,” Spanish teacher Ellen Lowery said. The club, which starts Jan. 4, is open to K-5 students who already have a background in spoken Spanish.

Falmouth students start taking Spanish language courses in first grade, but the new club is the only extra-curricular world language experience at Falmouth Elementary School, Lowery said.

The goal is to meet on the first three Thursday mornings of each month, she said.

So far Lowery has nine students signed up. Any other families who would like to sign up or learn more should email her at elowery@falmouthschools.org.

Lowery said she is pleased, however, with the small size of the group, which she called “a perfect size to allow for lots of interaction and participation.” 

She said she is offering the immersion experience in “response to requests by families for accelerated alternatives to the regular elementary Spanish program,” especially for students who already have a background in speaking Spanish, either at home or through full-day programs in other school districts.

In publicizing the new club, Lowery said she’s also “heard from many (other) families that their children would love more exposure to the language, so I have plans to start an immersion club for novice speakers down the road, as well.”

Lowery hopes students “will enjoy interacting and playing together in Spanish, and will practice and improve on the literacy and communication skills that they already have.”

But mostly, “I want the club to be a fun time for the kids involved,” she said.

Lowery teaches first- and second-grade Spanish, as well as part of the fifth-grade curriculum. The classes meet twice weekly for a half hour each, she said.

“Falmouth’s early elementary Spanish program gives children an awesome head start in acquiring a second language,” Lowery said. “Young learners are eager to speak and participate, and are generally very brave about trying to use what they know in Spanish to take part in games and stories.”

She said young students learn Spanish “by hearing and using it in an engaging setting, much the way they acquired their first language.”

At this age, Lowery said the curriculum goals include providing students “with genuinely communicative experiences, which means we spend class time hearing Spanish and working to interpret and relay meaningful messages.”

“Much of each class period is spent playing games and hearing and telling stories,” she said.

“Our goal is to use Spanish at least 90 percent of the time. It is a joy to see children use what words or chunks of language they know to get their message across in Spanish, rather than fall back on English.”

Learning a world language is “an exciting experience for many children,” Lowery said, “which translates into a very useful life skill.”

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

Falmouth Elementary School