As with all our curriculum decisions at Byron Center Christian School, the direction we have taken for our Spanish program since its inception in 2008 is based on a thorough analysis of the advantages of learning a second language. After identifying the goals that we want our students to achieve and researching the best approach to successfully reach those goals, we created our current FLES (Foreign Language in Elementary School) program.
Currently, we teach Spanish to all our students in grades Kindergarten – 8, relying on a healthy balance of frequency and repetition. For most of elementary school, students get Spanish four times a week for a total of 80 minutes. Then in middle school, the students have Spanish three times a week for a total of 120 minutes. Our lessons focus not only on language development, linguistics, grammar, and conversation, but also specifically on developing a keen sense of the peoples and cultures represented by those native Spanish speakers across the globe in order to create a sense of belonging and brotherhood with God’s children who may be different from ourselves.
With our FLES program, our students acquire a basic proficiency in listening, speaking and writing skills in Spanish. In their early years, students are able to understand lessons taught in Spanish as the teacher uses props and images to communicate the meaning of new words clearly. By fourth grade students have naturally learned to understand concepts like the difference between masculine and feminine nouns and how to adjust adjectives to agree with them, a part of grammar that does not exist in English. Upon entering middle school, they already have a basic understanding of important grammatical concepts surrounding nouns, verbs and adjectives. During middle school, students learn the equivalent of high school Spanish 1 curriculum. With hard work and studying, some students are able to place directly into Spanish 2 as freshmen.
Students are doing well inside and outside the classroom as observed when they participate in their cultural immersion projects in middle school. Moreover, South Christian is making accommodations for Byron Center Christian School students in particular because some students “test out” of the first year of high school Spanish, leading South to make plans for a new Spanish V curriculum. In addition, many of our graduates are continuing to use their new language skills here in West Michigan and when embarking on mission trips with their churches or in YWAM training as they travel to Spanish-speaking countries around the world.
As you can see, BCCS has developed a highly effective Spanish program based on a thorough analysis of why we teach a second language as well as reasonable and pragmatic goals of what we want our students to achieve. Our teachers’ in-depth experience with and love for Spanish-speaking cultures permeates our classes as students learn not only the Spanish language, but also to understand and appreciate other cultures.
Junior Kindergarten - meets once a week (20 minutes per week)
Full-time Kindergarten and 1st grade - meets twice a week (40 minutes per week)
2nd-5th grade - meets four times a week (80 minutes per week)
6th-8th grade - meets three times a week (120 minutes per week)