help with 2nd grade spanish class - Mothering Forums
Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
#1 of 11 Old 10-04-2011, 09:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
jgallagher66's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: State of confusion
Posts: 154
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

My son's school starts teaching spanish in kindergarten which I think is a great idea. He's in 2nd grade now. The only problem is that my son is getting so turned off to spanish specifically and learning a foreign language in general. He has his first big test today and the teacher sent home a study guide. I was completely shocked by it. She has them conjugating verbs like we did when we started learning languages in high school. He barely knows what a verb is and doesn't get this at all. She also requires them to write out the time from a clock in spanish and put that spelling counts. He knows how to count, but spelling the numbers in spanish just seems a bit much to ask. He has two pages of vocabulary to memorize and then has to translate sentences from english to spanish. Again she made sure to note that spelling counts. We studied for hours last night, but he just doesn't get this. He can't remember the spanish vocabulary words. Straight memorizing just doesn't seem to be working. The pronoun/verb agreement is completely not something that he gets at all. I just can't help wondering if there is a better way to teach a foreign language to kids this young. It certainly isn't the way he learned English. I feel like a more natural approach to just hearing the language and imitating it would work so much better. He has perfect English grammar and has never learned to conjugate verbs. He just has heard it spoken correctly since he was born. Wouldn't learning spanish be similar? If I were teaching a foreign language to young kids like this, I would sing lots of songs and talk in the language to them. Does anyone have any experiences with this? Any suggestions so that I can help him learn this stuff without turning him off to ever learning a foreign language? Is there something homeschoolers use that would work better? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I hate to see him so turned off by an important school subject.

jgallagher66 is offline  
#2 of 11 Old 10-04-2011, 10:33 AM
 
whatsnextmom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,928
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 12 Post(s)

My DS learned Spanish but in a different scenario. He was in full Spanish Immersion so K and 1st grades were taught entirely in Spanish. They were speaking, spelling and reading in Spanish right off the bat. In 3rd grade they started Mandarin but only conversationaly... they are only now introducing reading and writing in 6th grade (Mandarin is quite a bit more complex than Spanish though.) It's very slow going this way which we accept because we know it's a hard language and it's DS's 3rd language in a non-immersion setting. 

 

I do agree this isn't the ideal method for your son to learn the language. I don't agree that all the expectations are out of line but perhaps the quantity is. For example, it's not unrealistic for a child who has had 2 years of Spanish in school to be conjugating some high frequency verbs. This is something they do in English as well... run, running, ran, ect. The concept isn't beyond second grade. Spelling out clock numbers is also age and stage appropriate. 2 pages of vocabulary does seem extreme as kids don't typically get that many vocab/spelling words in English in a week. I do feel that translating English sentences into Spanish is premature if he's not been in total immersion.... Spanish to English would be more appropriate at this point perhaps (you understand far more words you hear and see than you are able to just pick out of your head from memory.)

 

Have you talked to the teacher about it? Do you have an idea of how other families are responding? What are the schools long-term expectations? Is the teacher speaking Spanish to them during these lessons? I think it's worth talking to the teacher. It may be the whole class flops on this test and she has to rethink her approach.


Married mom of two, DD 17 and DS 13.
whatsnextmom is online now  
#3 of 11 Old 10-04-2011, 12:58 PM
 
Linda on the move's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: basking in the sunshine
Posts: 10,545
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 29 Post(s)

I'd talk to the teacher and find out how it is going, how he compares to the rest of the class, etc. Because if this is his 3rd year of instruction and the 2 pages were meant to be a review of the first 2 years, it could sorta make sense.

 

My DD didn't start Spanish until she was older, but they learned some basic verb conjugations right off the bat without even calling them that. It was part of memorizing building blocks of sentences.

 

Does he have the same Spanish teacher year after year and there is a jump this year? Or is Spanish taught by the regular classroom teacher and she is way, way, way different from his first grade teacher?


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

Linda on the move is online now  
#4 of 11 Old 10-04-2011, 02:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
jgallagher66's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: State of confusion
Posts: 154
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)


Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

I'd talk to the teacher and find out how it is going, how he compares to the rest of the class, etc. Because if this is his 3rd year of instruction and the 2 pages were meant to be a review of the first 2 years, it could sorta make sense.

 

My DD didn't start Spanish until she was older, but they learned some basic verb conjugations right off the bat without even calling them that. It was part of memorizing building blocks of sentences.

 

Does he have the same Spanish teacher year after year and there is a jump this year? Or is Spanish taught by the regular classroom teacher and she is way, way, way different from his first grade teacher?


Thanks for the replies and suggestions. I will be talking to the teacher. It is a different Spanish teacher this year and she does seem pretty radically different from the previous teacher. The previous teacher did seem to emphasize fun a bit more. Even when I learned French in High School our teacher would utilize a lot of singing and games to reinforce the concepts. I really feel I learned more from these than from memorizing vocabulary. I was actually a French major in college and was an exchange student in France during High School. My French teacher had a passion for the language and a more natural way of teaching the language and it really made me an enthusiastic learner of both French and other languages. I just hate seeing him so negative about the whole thing. If anyone knows any curriculum ideas for reinforcing the language at home so that I can help him develop a love for the language that would be great. I'm finding it so frustrating that learning isn't been taught as something that is natural and enjoyable, but is such a chore. I don't think I would have loved French so much if I had been taught like this.
 

 

jgallagher66 is offline  
#5 of 11 Old 10-04-2011, 08:42 PM
 
LynnS6's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Pacific NW longing for the Midwest
Posts: 12,570
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

Is she from another country? Older than 60?

 

This method is completely developmentally inappropriate -- whether for first language or second. 2nd graders are iffy with spelling in English (my dd who's in second grade level recently spelled beautiful "bufetil" -- and she's an excellent reader). That's not uncommon. Spelling ability always lags behind reading ability, and certainly lags behind speaking ability! The number of words seems inappropriate too -- my kids only got 10-15 spelling words for ENGLISH in 2nd grade. Furthermore, it's a rare 2nd grader who knows what a pronoun is (OK, my kids do, but I'm a linguist. Most normal people don't talk about language the way we do.) The other reason it's inappropriate is that it's not linked to any meaningful content. Conjugating verbs just to learn the patterns is certainly not helpful at this age. And who gives 2nd graders a "big test"?

 

The methods that she's using for teaching -- rote memorizing, grammar drills, focus on spelling/form are also quite outdated. Seriously, since the 1980s, foreign languages have been taught primarily by what's called Communicative Language Teaching. Communicative language teaching, as the name implies, focuses on learning language to communicate. Older children who are literate can benefit from some explicit grammar instruction along with communicative language teaching, as do adults. But the key here is "some" grammar. Grammar needs to be taught with communicative skills, and it helps if the grammar taught can be linked to a communicative purpose. Yes, there's some memorization necessary. Yes, you eventually need some explicit grammar. But since most 2nd graders don't get explicit grammar in English, how are they to understand it in Spanish? Her methods are outdated for high school and college, and are bound to lead to problems in early elementary.

 

The Center for Applied Linguistics has a number of helpful resources:

Communicative Language Teaching: http://www.cal.org/resources/digest/gallow01.html

Key Elements for Model Early Foreign Language Programs: http://www.cal.org/resources/digest/0211gilzow.html

What We Can Learn from Foreign Language Teaching in Other Countries: http://www.cal.org/resources/digest/0106pufahl.html

 

If you care to use google to get more, you can try: FLES (Foreign Language in the Elementary Schools). Some of these programs are full immersion programs, but some are just part of the curriculum, like you've got.

 

OK, all of that is more than you want to know, but if you need to take this higher (and I suspect you might), it'll give you ammunition. I'll stop my rant now. (I just happen to teach about this in some of my classes and it irritates me to no end when I hear of teachers who are using completely developmentally inappropriate methods for language teaching.)

 

What I think will really  happen is that all of the 2nd graders are going to bomb the test, and she'll either see the light and change her ways, or cut back on what she's asking of them. I would not hesitate to go talk to her, and ask her politely what her method of teaching is and why. Explain the difficulty your son is having and ask her for help.

 

Your son can do something like LiveMocha (which is free) online at home, if you think it'd help. He also clearly needs help breaking the task into more manageable bits -- ask him to say and act out each word 5 times. Do this for maybe 5 words a day. The next day, you can say and act out 5 more, and then write the 5 from the previous day. But I can't seriously see teaching a 2nd grader more than 25 new words a week.

 

As for the grammar patterns, have him memorize the chunks. Don't worry about him not understanding the link to pronouns.


Lynnteapot2.GIF, academicreading.gif,geek.gif wife, WOHM  to T jog.gif(4/01) and M whistling.gif (5/04)
LynnS6 is offline  
#6 of 11 Old 10-04-2011, 09:08 PM
 
pianojazzgirl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Montreal
Posts: 4,335
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

I think the teacher's expectations seem out-of-whack.  How often a week do they have this class?  That seems like a LOT to be mastered in a 2nd language NON-immersion (perhaps even immersion!) for new 2nd graders.

 

We speak English at home but live in a predominantly Francophone city.  My dd is in 2nd grade in a French school.  She does very well in school and has no trouble in her language (French) classes.  They are not doing all that your ds is expected to do in his 2nd language class.  They have not learned formal conjugation of verbs yet (ex: je suis, tu es, il est, elle est, nous sommes, etc, etc), though they obviously read verbs in different tenses and are also expected to write and spell some verbs in the context of short phrases (for example on her "dictee" tests the teacher will say a phrase and the kids will have to write it down with correct spelling.  It might be something like "On Monday we go to school." 'Les lundis nous allons a l'ecole').  The pronoun-verb agreement is something the kids just *know* for the most part, as the majority have French as their mother tongue.  A few, like dd, have French as their 2nd language, but have been studying in French for at least the past 3+ years (since pre-K).  Learning tables of verb conjugation is not something they do yet, though (from what I've seen of friends' kids' homework) is something they'll get to this year.

 

As far as vocab, I guess it's learned more in the context of reading text.  It's my understanding that every week there might be 10-15 new words brought up in what they're reading, based on the theme of the week.

 

It really does seem to me that this teacher's style of teaching a 2nd language to such young kids is quite off.  It sounds more like how you'd teach a middle or high school class.  I'd be curious to see how the other kids are responding.  Are they too having trouble keeping up with her expectations?  If you are lucky she'll get clued in pretty quickly after this test and adjust her expectations accordingly.  If not you will have to initiate a meeting with her, and perhaps the principal.

 


Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010

pianojazzgirl is offline  
#7 of 11 Old 10-05-2011, 06:53 AM - Thread Starter
 
jgallagher66's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: State of confusion
Posts: 154
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)


Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post

Is she from another country? Older than 60?

 

This method is completely developmentally inappropriate -- whether for first language or second. 2nd graders are iffy with spelling in English (my dd who's in second grade level recently spelled beautiful "bufetil" -- and she's an excellent reader). That's not uncommon. Spelling ability always lags behind reading ability, and certainly lags behind speaking ability! The number of words seems inappropriate too -- my kids only got 10-15 spelling words for ENGLISH in 2nd grade. Furthermore, it's a rare 2nd grader who knows what a pronoun is (OK, my kids do, but I'm a linguist. Most normal people don't talk about language the way we do.) The other reason it's inappropriate is that it's not linked to any meaningful content. Conjugating verbs just to learn the patterns is certainly not helpful at this age. And who gives 2nd graders a "big test"?

 

The methods that she's using for teaching -- rote memorizing, grammar drills, focus on spelling/form are also quite outdated. Seriously, since the 1980s, foreign languages have been taught primarily by what's called Communicative Language Teaching. Communicative language teaching, as the name implies, focuses on learning language to communicate. Older children who are literate can benefit from some explicit grammar instruction along with communicative language teaching, as do adults. But the key here is "some" grammar. Grammar needs to be taught with communicative skills, and it helps if the grammar taught can be linked to a communicative purpose. Yes, there's some memorization necessary. Yes, you eventually need some explicit grammar. But since most 2nd graders don't get explicit grammar in English, how are they to understand it in Spanish? Her methods are outdated for high school and college, and are bound to lead to problems in early elementary.

 

The Center for Applied Linguistics has a number of helpful resources:

Communicative Language Teaching: http://www.cal.org/resources/digest/gallow01.html

Key Elements for Model Early Foreign Language Programs: http://www.cal.org/resources/digest/0211gilzow.html

What We Can Learn from Foreign Language Teaching in Other Countries: http://www.cal.org/resources/digest/0106pufahl.html

 

If you care to use google to get more, you can try: FLES (Foreign Language in the Elementary Schools). Some of these programs are full immersion programs, but some are just part of the curriculum, like you've got.

 

OK, all of that is more than you want to know, but if you need to take this higher (and I suspect you might), it'll give you ammunition. I'll stop my rant now. (I just happen to teach about this in some of my classes and it irritates me to no end when I hear of teachers who are using completely developmentally inappropriate methods for language teaching.)

 

What I think will really  happen is that all of the 2nd graders are going to bomb the test, and she'll either see the light and change her ways, or cut back on what she's asking of them. I would not hesitate to go talk to her, and ask her politely what her method of teaching is and why. Explain the difficulty your son is having and ask her for help.

 

Your son can do something like LiveMocha (which is free) online at home, if you think it'd help. He also clearly needs help breaking the task into more manageable bits -- ask him to say and act out each word 5 times. Do this for maybe 5 words a day. The next day, you can say and act out 5 more, and then write the 5 from the previous day. But I can't seriously see teaching a 2nd grader more than 25 new words a week.

 

As for the grammar patterns, have him memorize the chunks. Don't worry about him not understanding the link to pronouns.


Thank you so much. This is just the kind of help I needed. My gut was telling me just what you said, I just don't have the educational background to support it. She is Mexican and probably in her 40's. I'm not sure she is really qualified to be teaching this except that she has a college degree and is a native spanish speaker. She just postponed the test. Probably she is getting parental complaints as the parents at this school are very vocal when they are not comfortable with something. I will add my voice to theirs for sure and go to her first and if necessary to the headmaster. You have given me some information to take with me. Thanks again.
 

 

jgallagher66 is offline  
#8 of 11 Old 10-05-2011, 09:10 AM
 
whatsnextmom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,928
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 12 Post(s)


Quote:
Originally Posted by jgallagher66 View Post

 I just don't have the educational background to support it. She is Mexican and probably in her 40's. I'm not sure she is really qualified to be teaching this except that she has a college degree and is a native spanish speaker. 

 

I wouldn't assume she's not qualified to teach. Our immersion school was literally filled with Mexican individuals with college degrees whose native language is Spanish. They have been truly fantastic. You also don't know what the SCHOOL'S expectations are and what they are telling her she needs to do and where THEY expect 2nd graders to be in Spanish by the end of year. It may be that SHE isn't too fond of the lists of vocab either and so postponed the test. It could be that she's finding the second graders not as proficient as she was led to believe or they aren't meeting the standards that past classes have met.... that wouldn't be her fault. It could be there are others in the class that ARE at that level and she's wanting to give them something challenging. To assume she's not qualified without ever talking to her about it seems inappropriate to me.

 

Also, remember that this isn't an immersion school where kids learn a new language like they are meant to learn it. You are signed up for Spanish enrichment. Yes, songs and play games are nice but they are limited. You spend 2 years doing your counting, colors, body parts and basic vocab and you run out of vocab songs. Eventually, a more traditional method will take it's place if you are to truly move forward in the language outside the immersion setting. Like I said, her expectations are a bit ambitious but not totally off for children who have had 2 years of regular Spanish lessons. Remember that Spanish is a phonetic language. Spelling in Spanish is far, far easier than in English. If you get a good handle on its phonetic alphabet, you can pretty much spell anything first time hearing it. The vocab may take being creative at home but after 2 years of lessons, it is time to up the game and start learning more complex vocab. 

 

Talk to the teacher before deciding she isn't qualified to teach. You really only have your own child's experiences to base this determination on.

 


Married mom of two, DD 17 and DS 13.
whatsnextmom is online now  
#9 of 11 Old 10-05-2011, 02:21 PM
 
emilysmama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 643
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)


Quote:
Originally Posted by jgallagher66 View Post

My son's school starts teaching spanish in kindergarten which I think is a great idea. He's in 2nd grade now.

 

...

 

 I just can't help wondering if there is a better way to teach a foreign language to kids this young. It certainly isn't the way he learned English. I feel like a more natural approach to just hearing the language and imitating it would work so much better. He has perfect English grammar and has never learned to conjugate verbs. He just has heard it spoken correctly since he was born. Wouldn't learning spanish be similar? If I were teaching a foreign language to young kids like this, I would sing lots of songs and talk in the language to them. Does anyone have any experiences with this?

Every single class in my dd's public K-5 school has one hour a week with the Spanish teacher.  My dd is now in second grade, like your son, and also like your son, has been doing this since K. 

 

Senora is very popular with my dd.  My dd adores Spanish.  Like you say, there is a lot  of hearing and imitating.  There is a lot of singing.  There are worksheets.  I don't recall ever hearing about any tests, and I certainly haven't heard my dd conjugating verbs.   

 

The purpose of Spanish in my dd's school is not to teach spanish fluency.  One hour a week is not going to do that.  It is to give a taste so that the children will want to take spanish in high school.  Perhaps your son's teacher has a different purpose, and more classtime per week to accomplish it?

 

No helpful suggestions for you.  Just chiming in to tell you that all programs are not like the one you are experiencing.
 

 

emilysmama is offline  
#10 of 11 Old 10-12-2011, 06:22 PM
 
LynnS6's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Pacific NW longing for the Midwest
Posts: 12,570
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)


Quote:
Originally Posted by whatsnextmom View Post

I wouldn't assume she's not qualified to teach. Our immersion school was literally filled with Mexican individuals with college degrees whose native language is Spanish. They have been truly fantastic. You also don't know what the SCHOOL'S expectations are and what they are telling her she needs to do and where THEY expect 2nd graders to be in Spanish by the end of year. It may be that SHE isn't too fond of the lists of vocab either and so postponed the test. It could be that she's finding the second graders not as proficient as she was led to believe or they aren't meeting the standards that past classes have met.... that wouldn't be her fault. It could be there are others in the class that ARE at that level and she's wanting to give them something challenging. To assume she's not qualified without ever talking to her about it seems inappropriate to me.

 

But being a native speaker of a language doesn't mean that you know how to teach your language. Having a college degree doesn't mean that she's been taught how to teach. Teaching is a specific skill that must be learned, especially if you've got children with a range of abilities in class. Even if she's got a degree in education, she might be a dynamite teacher in some other subject, but not know how to teach a language. (I'd expect her to be certified if it's a public school, because schools have very little leeway for hiring people who aren't certified teachers.) whatnextmom, you've been lucky in that your kids' teachers have been good, or have a good curriculum to work with. One of the great fallacies of language teaching is that native speakers (even without specific training in language teaching) are somehow better than second language speakers who've been taught how to teach a language.

 

OP: An easy thing to ask the teacher to see (a) about her training and (b) expectations, is to ask her what her goals are for a week or so of lessons. Tell her truthfully, that you need to be able to help your son, and you're thinking he might be falling behind. She should be able to pull out a lesson plan that says "by the end of this lesson/week, students will be able to.." with some very specific goals. If she can't tell you what some of her lesson goals are, that's a bad sign. If she can, but her lesson goals don't seem realistic to you, you can say something like "wow, that seems like a lot for a 2nd grader to do in a day/week. What suggestions do you have for helping my son keep up?" If she brushes you off, won't talk to you or doesn't seem to want to help, ask for a meeting with the principal.

 

 


Lynnteapot2.GIF, academicreading.gif,geek.gif wife, WOHM  to T jog.gif(4/01) and M whistling.gif (5/04)
LynnS6 is offline  
#11 of 11 Old 10-12-2011, 07:16 PM
 
whatsnextmom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,928
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 12 Post(s)


Quote:
Originally Posted by LynnS6 View Post

 

But being a native speaker of a language doesn't mean that you know how to teach your language. Having a college degree doesn't mean that she's been taught how to teach. Teaching is a specific skill that must be learned, especially if you've got children with a range of abilities in class. Even if she's got a degree in education, she might be a dynamite teacher in some other subject, but not know how to teach a language. (I'd expect her to be certified if it's a public school, because schools have very little leeway for hiring people who aren't certified teachers.) whatnextmom, you've been lucky in that your kids' teachers have been good, or have a good curriculum to work with. One of the great fallacies of language teaching is that native speakers (even without specific training in language teaching) are somehow better than second language speakers who've been taught how to teach a language.

 


I don't think it's all luck. I think the teachers hired by the school were chosen for a reason and why would anyone assume this isn't the case with this teacher? The OP really doesn't have enough information to know whether this teacher is qualified or not. She only knows that her own child is struggling. She hasn't even had a real conversation with her nor has she had much input from other parents. I'm not sure why you would jump to the conclusion that she's a poor teacher? Would you jump so fast if this were a post about a child struggling to read or in math? Probably not. You'd expect the parent to conference with the teacher first and find out more about what's going on. Sadly, I often find that when it comes to Native Spanish speakers, people assume a lower level of competence.

 

I find that when advocating for your child (and we've done lots of it,) it's best to start assuming that the other party has the best of intentions and may have some insight you may not have.  

 


Married mom of two, DD 17 and DS 13.
whatsnextmom is online now  
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Drag and Drop File Upload
Drag files here to attach!
Upload Progress: 0
Options

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Mothering Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
If you do not want to register, fill this field only and the name will be used as user name for your post.
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Password:
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:

Log-in

Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off