SOUTHINGTON — The Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday night to endorse the concept of creating a foreign language pilot program for kindergarten and first-grade students at South End School.
Tina Riccio, a Southington High School foreign language teacher, and Jim Quinn, principal of South End School, presented their work to the school board. The goal is the have the program start in the fall.
Developing a “globally educated student” is one of the goals of implementing the program, Riccio said. The pilot program also ties in with Common Core standards and Vision 2020, the district’s plan to prepare students for entering the work force.
“The globally educated student knows and understands the issues that come across national boundaries,” Riccio said. Spanish classes would be held once a week for 30 minutes. The same group of students will take Spanish classes throughout their elementary school career and their progress will be followed until they graduate from high school. Foreign languages are not currently taught until middle school.
“We will bring back the curriculum so you can actually see the work,” said Assistant School Superintendent Karen Smith.
Listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills would be developed throughout the years.
During kindergarten, language would involve mostly teacher talk and input at first until the students feel comfortable with speaking. The goal would be to start conversations. Students would learn greetings, numbers, colors, days of the week, months, how to respond to classroom directions, and more. Students would also “get up” and act out the vocabulary during class.
Fast forward four years and Riccio said the hope for students in fifth grade is that the immigration unit learned in social studies would be tied in with the language. She brought up the idea of creating an Ellis Island experience for students to learn “what it’s like to answer questions and not know the language,” Riccio said.
“I’m thrilled with the idea and can’t tell you how excited I am to have the opportunity to have this at South End School,” Quinn said.
South End School was picked to have the pilot program because of the lower enrollment. It will give an opportunity for other Southington students to join.
School Superintendent Joseph V. Erardi Jr. said the district would send a letter to parents of incoming kindergarteners with the opportunity.
“Depending on the number of respondents, we may go into a lottery system,” Erardi said. Parents with children from other schools in the district would be responsible for transportation.