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The Kalona News
Kalona, Iowa
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Newspaper Article Archive of
The Kalona News

April 12, 2018 Mid-Prairie board discusses foreign language future
Article Pages -- as published on the The Kalona News website.

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ARTICLE DESCRIPTION:

Foreign language will continue to be taught in Mid-Prairie elementary schools, although no decision has been made as to what extent.

Members of the Mid-Prairie school board discussed the future of the elementary foreign language program during Monday night’s meeting.

“I would hope the board isn’t considering dropping foreign language in the elementary school,” Superintendent Mark Schneider said.

Board Vice President George Schaefer said that the board supports the program.

“We’re deciding whether to have two (languages) or one or the other,” Schaefer said.

Currently, both Spanish and Chinese are taught in the elementary schools.

Mid-Prairie West Elementary Principal Bill Poock explained the three types of language programs schools offer:

• Immersion involves all classes being taught in a foreign language.

• FLES focuses on teaching students to become fluent speakers.

• FLEX promotes the study of a language and culture but not necessarily on students becoming fluent speakers.

“Our program is more like a FLEX program,” Poock said. “It teaches that learning a language can be fun. At the elementary level, we’re not getting into major linguistics. We’re not conjugating verbs.”

He added that studies have shown that learning a foreign language can help increase cognitive abilities as well as help students better learn their native language.

Board member Gabrielle Frederick brought up that Spanish is taught K-12, building on each year’s previous lessons, while Chinese is not.

She questioned the benefit of the low level of teaching time for the elementary language programs.

“I struggle with something you’re only learning for 25 minutes a week,” she said.

Board member Jodi Meader asked what the district’s goal for the elementary foreign language program is.

Schaefer said he sees benefits in students learning about other cultures.

“Racism comes from ignorance,” he said.

Schneider pressed the board to make a decision on the direction of the program.

“At some point, the board need to decide what it wants to do about the foreign language program in the elementary school,” he said.

The board decided to hold off on a decision and discuss the issue at the next school board meeting.

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