The Spanish program at Wilmington Montessori School begins in the Primary (3-6) Program and builds a strong foundation of the Spanish language and culture through middle school. The program is based on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language standards.
The Spanish curriculum emphasizes listening and comprehension at the Primary level, and incorporates more speaking in the Lower Elementary (6-9) Program. The Upper Elementary curriculum balances listening, speaking, reading and writing. In each level, the program builds a foundation for learning foreign language as children learn strategies to approach a new language, a new culture and ethnic diversity.
The program also prepares students to use the language to communicate in real-life situations. To do this, children are surrounded by the language through the use of puppets, props, story-telling and picture cues, Spanish songs using movement, and Spanish poems and fables using rhymes.
Spanish is spoken by the teacher in the classroom in a natural manner. Spanish lessons are offered spontaneously in the mornings to all children and kindergarten students have 45 minutes of dedicated Spanish lessons once a week.
Cultural knowledge exercises include:
- Celebrating special events (e.g., El Carnaval, La Tomatina, Cinco de Mayo, Dia de los Muertos, Las Posadas).
- Listening and responding through vocabulary.
- Creative expression through songs and stories.
- Learning about Spanish-speaking countries, flags and geography.
Linguistic knowledge exercises include:
- Following simple directions
- Oral and hands-on practice with general vocabulary: greetings, numbers (1-30), colors, feelings, articles of clothing, body parts, animals, etc.
Lower Elementary students attend Spanish class once a week for 50 minutes. The emphasis is on speaking. Students continue to build on the basics of the Spanish language using visual materials so the younger students can touch and manipulate them as they learn to make complete sentences. At the 6-9 level, students learn vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar and sentence structure. Our lessons also help students develop listening comprehension, speaking, reading and writing skills.
As part of WMS's arts integration program, students are also encouraged to develop creative and critical thinking skills by analyzing and discussing similarities and differences between cultures.
The 9-12 curriculum balances all the skills needed for a foreign language, including listening, speaking, reading and writing. At this level, the Spanish program also prepares students to use the language to communicate in real-life situations. To do this, students learn the language through games, songs, chants, books, conversations and skits.
Spanish is taught once a week for 50 minutes, and sixth-graders have an additional 50-minute class period. At the sixth-grade level, students are required to present a play or a puppet show in Spanish for the Primary students.
Studying a world language supports WMS’s mission to develop globally minded citizens. At WMS, the study of Spanish not only supports this aim, but also nurtures the awareness of the diversity within our own country. Students advance through Descubre's Level I Spanish curriculum and have a strong foundation to move on to Level II in high school. Using the flipped classroom model supports individualized study as well as the immersion-style classroom, where students practice their listening, reading, writing and speaking skills. Project-based learning offers students the opportunity to delve into the culture of the language. While some students may be ready for Level II Spanish upon entering high school, the goal of middle-school Spanish at WMS is to help students develop a high degree of communicative competence and confidence.