Saline Area Schools to Expand Foreign Language Program to Younger Students
The “Love of Language Program” will bring instruction to children beginning in kindergarten.
Saline Area Schools will introduce a new “Love of Language Program” in the district during the 2013-2014 school year.
“From then on, the program will become a permanent in-class rotation,” said Steve Laatsch, assistant superintendent of instructional services in Saline.
The “Love of Language Program” will expand the foreign language instruction
from the current two years taken by students in middle and high school, to instruction beginning in kindergarten. Before, students often took one of the two required language credits spread years apart.
Laatsch said starting kids in foreign language early has huge benefits, because younger students tend to absorb like a sponge and learn at a great pace.
“If you start building cognitive skills early, the students will benefit greatly,” he added. "Our main goal is to give students an opportunity to be prolific in a second foreign language.”
During Tuesday's “All the World’s a Stage” breakfast at Saline High School, sponsored by the Foundation for Saline Area Schools, about 120 people are expected to discuss the program, among other topics.
Cheryl Hoeft, president of the Foundation, said one dyslexic student who took four years of foreign language classes is a testament to how much a student can benefit from taking several years of classes.
Hoeft said the student, who now works in Haiti, wrote a letter to be read by her mother during the breakfast. In the letter, Hoeft said, the student shared her thoughts on how foreign language has helped her overcome her dyslexia and has had a positive impact on her humanitarian work.
Laatsch said research has shown students who are introduced to foreign language early have stronger cognitive skills, and score better on standardized testing, and even academic skills like math, in later years.
According to Laatsch and Hoeft, there is still much work to be done. The district is currently in the process of deciding what languages will be presented, as well as the possibility of offering multiple languages to students. Administrators also aim to raise $75,000 to help kick start the program.
The Foundation has already pledged support.
Each year, the Foundation awards several grants to staff members who present unique ideas. Each grant is worth up to $1,000 and is awarded for ideas that present innovative educational ideas. Last year, the foundation awarded 19 grants totaling $16,000.
The foundation raises money by hosting a variety of events like Tuesday’s breakfast, in addition to accepting donations from staff, residents and alumni in the community.
“We have fantastic long-term donors,” said Hoeft.
Laatsch said Saline residents are interested, and that the district is looking for community members willing to volunteer their time to the program.
“We’re looking for diverse community members that are able to do things like help develop curriculum,” he said. More information will be provided at a later date on how to apply to the committee.
For more information about the Foundation for Saline Area Schools or Tuesday’s breakfast, visit www.support.fsas.org
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