Newton Christian School

Training to a Higher Standard

Spanish

Students begin learning Spanish vocabulary and phrases in Kindergarten.

Students in Kindergarten through 8th grade participate in Spanish classes weekly.  Students are engaged in the foreign language by learning practical communication skills.  This is done through interactive projects such as building a Spanish community and hosting a Hispanic market where students purchase Hispanic food items from local Hispanic community members.

Vocabulary lists, Spanish song lyrics and interesting internet links for extra practice will periodically be posted below.

 

Benefits of learning a second language

Much of the research in early language acquisition has examined the question, is there a critical period in human development when the brain is predisposed for success in second language learning?  Early work in the field suggests that optimal language learning takes place before the onset of puberty at which time humans lose their biological predisposition for language learning due to hemispheric brain lateralization.  Before puberty, brain activity moves more freely between hemispheres making the brain more malleable than what is found in the brain of an older learner where the brain is more stable and not as equipped to reorganize itself.

Widely corroborated research studies also suggest that pronunciation and accent are best achieved before the age of twelve.  Language learners who begin as children are able to achieve a more native-like accent.  This is attributed to the fact that vocal cords begin to harden after puberty and are less flexible during adolescence and adulthood.

Recently, a study was done of students who began Spanish in Kindergarten compared to their counterparts who began the language in sixth grade.  The younger students were able to acquire a higher level of competence in syntax and grammar than the older learners.

Children who begin to study a second language in their early years:

  • Demonstrate an enhanced ability to engage in problem solving
  • Usually read earlier
  • Typically score higher on standardized tests
  • Are more open to learning about people of other cultures from ages 7-12 than students in their teen years