Foreign Language at Midwest Academy
Foreign Language is considered an elective at Midwest Academy. If an elective is not in your child’s interest, feel free to opt them out. Gifted students learn best when they are interested in the material. We will work with the parent to come up with an alternate plan during that programming time.
In our first academic school year we plan on offering 3 hours of 1 language a week. There are wide studies that believe that immersive language programming requires a minimum of 3 hours a week in a target language in order to achieve continuous growth.
At this time we will be offering one language option that we will publish in August. Long-term, our goal is to offer multiple language options to students.
Our focus in language studies is multi-fold:
· Achieving conversational proficiency first and foremost. The goal is for the student to be able to finish our language studies program at a minimum confident that they could comfortably visit a country that speaks the target language, understand the cultural context of that country, and be able to do some basics, such as to come up to a child on the playground and be able to establish basic play, to walk into a restaurant and place an order, get directions, and to shop for necessities.
· Learning to read all the way to being able to read college-level texts.
· Achieving mastery as a writer, which includes the alphabets, grammatical rules, and spelling, as well as the formation of ideas.
· Studying even the non-verbal communication/rules of politeness. If anyone has ever learned how to say yes or no in Hindi or Greek, or are coming from a language that is more direct than English or has more conjugation based on who you are speaking with, they would understand what we mean.
· Supporting the asynchronous development of our various gifted students is key. For example, if one takes a group of students with the same IQ, let’s say, 145, and same age, while some of them will be talented in language acquisition, others may find it daunting despite a strong desire and motivation to learn, and due to how everyone’s brain is wired differently especially when it comes to memory, the aim is to meet each student where they are and take them forward at their pace. Some students will be able to acquire 50+ vocabulary words a week or even a day, others will work hard to retain just 8-10. We will support all those diverse learners and help them feel successful, and help them recognize where their strengths lie when it comes to language acquisition, so that they can take advantage of those strengths in their learning.
In order to support foreign language learning, we plan on:
· Differentiating based on acquired knowledge in the subject and the speed of the uptake, just like in our other core programs. For example, a student that already speaks the language at home would still be challenged through picking up where they may have gaps in formal education in that language, all the way to college level material in that subject. For example, if the student speaks Spanish at home and is able to read with proficiency, they may enjoy the Chicago Spanish Student Poetry competition as an option, a pen pal exchange, discussing contemporary newspaper or scholarly articles, and reading and discussing emotionally appropriate Spanish and Latin American classical literature all the way through college texts, with a survey focus on great works and major historical developments of the various genres. They may be engaged in Latin/Italian/Portuguese for Spanish Speakers studies. There is no ceiling with our language program.
· Setting up a student exchange program.
· Studying cultural and historical backgrounds of countries where the language is spoken to provide context.
· Introducing topic/theme vocabulary: if there is a project that the students happen to be involved in studying buoyancy or Olympic sports, for example, that vocabulary might be brought into the language study.
· Inviting visiting writers and speakers that would engage students in the target language.