PHOENIXVILLE - The Phoenixville Area School District (PASD) is considering the introduction of Spanish Language instruction for elementary students for the Fall Semester 2004.
Helen Larson, PASD assistant superintendent for curriculum, presented the results of a three-year study to the school board at Thursday's meeting as part of a report titled, Elementary World Language Plan.
Larson asked board members to hire one full-time Spanish instructor who during the initial year of the program would teach all first-graders district-wide and to selected second-graders.
When fully realized, the program will present two 30-minute instruction periods per week to first- through fifth-graders.
For the second year of the program, all first- and second-graders plus some third graders would be taught Spanish. Full implementation of the program would require that the PASD hire three full-time teachers. Full implementation would take place during a four-year time period and include all first- through fifth-grade students.
Board member Bill Mea asked Larson why Spanish was chosen rather than other languages and whether two languages at a time might instead be offered.
Larson replied that Spanish is one of the most popular languages in the world that students study, is more prevalent in society, is the choice of most language programs and that teaching one language simply makes more sense.
Board Member Debbie Dawson asked if hiring a part-time teacher, rather than a full-time instructor who would teach both first and second grades, might be in the district's best interests.
"We're trying to start from scratch," said Larson.
She then said that by hiring for a full-time position that the district might "attract the best possible candidate" to help build the program.
The Vision Statement for the plan reads that the World Language Program will function "to motivate and engage all students in advanced language acquisition."
The six listed goals are as follows:
* Motivate students to pursue the study of other language and cultures.
* Ensure that all students achieve greater appreciation and respect for other cultures.
* Develop effective communication skills in the second language so that all students achieve basic proficiency levels.
* Integrate and support grade specific curriculum while emphasizing communicative proficiencies in the second language.
* Advance the development of cognitive skills.
* Enhance student understanding of world language concepts in order to succeed in today's competitive job market and global economy.
Approval of the plan will hinge on the hiring of an instructor as part of the 2004-2005 school budget. That budget will likely be voted on during the June school board meeting.