Language Programs Offered at the Elementary Level
Immersion programs at the elementary level begin in kindergarten and are offered as School of Choice programs in Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. Spanish Immersion programs are currently offered at the following elementary schools: E. E. Miller, Howard Hall, William H. Owen, and Morganton Road. Mandarin Chinese Immersion is offered at only one elementary school – New Century International.
In both the Spanish and Mandarin Chinese immersion programs, students enter at the kindergarten level and learn to understand, speak, read, and write in the target language as well as in English. All classroom instruction is taught by a teacher who is fluent in the target language. The core subjects of reading, math, science, and social studies are taught in the target language, while resource classes in art, music, media, guidance, computer skills, and physical education are taught in English. All students in the immersion programs are taught the same Common Core and Essential Standards as students in non-immersion classrooms, thus preparing them to perform on English language state assessments.
FLES (Foreign Language in the Elementary Schools)
FLES is an approach to language learning that allows students to develop basic communicative skills in a language while reinforcing and enriching content in other disciplines. The FLES model provides all students in an elementary school with world language learning opportunities. Research studies have indicated that the early study of a second language results in cognitive benefits, gains in academic achievement, and increases in self-esteem, creativity, and positive attitudes toward diversity.
The FLES model in the Cumberland County School System is focused on Spanish and Mandarin Chinese. Generally, programs consist of 45 minutes of instruction two to three times per week. In addition, the culture of the target language is integrated into instruction. The goals of the CCS FLES program support academic content area instruction, develop increased cognitive skills, enhance reading development in both English and the target language, promote global awareness and cross-cultural understanding, develop increased functional proficiency in all aspects of the language with each year of study, and meet district, state, and national foreign language standards. Currently, five of our elementary schools implement the FLES program. New Century International Elementary offers both Spanish and Mandarin Chinese, and Ashley, Glendale Acres, Gray’s Creek, and Vanstory Hills elementary schools offer only Spanish.
The FLES curriculum begins with very basic terms and phrases at the kindergarten level and becomes progressively more complex as students advance through each grade level. Themes cover self and family, school life, social life, and community and world. Assessment in both Immersion and FLES programs is based on proficiency levels, which range from Novice Low to Intermediate Low-Mid. Proficiency reflects the students’ ability to communicate in a functional way with the new language.