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Teachers Say "Bienvenido" to a New Spanish Curriculum

Students taking the level one Spanish this year will participate in a new, more immersive way of learning designed to engage them in authentic language-learning experiences. In the past, students would memorize sets of vocabulary words and grammar concepts that they would practice and then take a quiz. Now, they will be using a series called EntreCulturas, utilizing the Integrative Performance Assessment (IPA) model that focuses on developing three modes of communication: interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational. The cyclical model provides students with a way to learn vocabulary and grammar concepts within the context of conversation and culture. 

“Instead of quizzes, it’s about communication skills,” said GHS Spanish Instructor and World Languages Department Chair Jessica Egan. “It’s a bit hard at first, but the benefit is that the kids are exposed to authentic materials, and in doing so they see how the language is used in real life.” 

The authentic materials teachers will present include everyday items such as menus, advertisements or videos. Students will use interpersonal skills and work together to interpret and discuss cultural differences between the materials written in Spanish. Each chapter will require students to compare the language, culture and identity between a Spanish-speaking area in the US and a Spanish-speaking country. For example, students may compare the differences between Spanish-influenced food dishes in North Carlina and Mexico. 

The final step in the IPA method is a presentation, in which students may work with a partner or group to create an artifact based on what they have learned. They may encounter words they don’t know or have not mastered, but they learn the new terms by engaging with authentic materials and conversation, that mirrors real-world learning.

“I believe the learning will be faster,” she said. “It’s like full immersion from day one.” 

EntreCulturas will be added to the Spanish levels 2-4 once per year and may eventually be incorporated into the French and German curriculum throughout the district as well. More than half of all eligible students in Geneva 304 take language courses. World language is an important part of our academic curriculum as most colleges require a minimum of two years of world language study. 

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