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GUILDERLAND: Hola! to new program

A positive attitude helps the children feel comfortable with the new material they learn each week. This is especially important because the classes are taught almost entirely in Spanish, with very little English spoken. However, rather than use flash cards and other common methods of teaching foreign languages, FLES teachers use immersion to help children associate the new vocabulary with ideas rather than just words. This approach to learning has proven to be very effective.

"Studies have shown that immersion is the best way to teach. A piecemeal approach is very artificial," said FLES teacher Rebecca Frank. "Why not just show them the color red? It's much more authentic."

Children are reacting well to the FLES program, district administrators said.

"The children seem very welcoming of the program," said Frank. "Even walking down the hall I feel like a celebrity. Response to the program has been really positive. I'm impressed " they retain a lot."

Ultimately, everyone involved is hopeful for the future of the program. It will expand in coming years to include third, fourth, and fifth graders, all of whom will have been exposed to the program already.

"All the research indicates that the earlier a child starts a foreign language, the more adept he or she becomes at it," said Fraterrigo, "In addition to that, it also helps other skills. We're excited."

"Children have this capacity that we don't have," Frank said. "It's magic " they can switch from one language to another in a way adults can't. I feel like this is my professional niche. I'm very happy here." ""

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