It is expected that the introduction of this programme of instruction will:
- Develop basic oral/aural Spanish proficiency among primary-age students
- Create a greater awareness of Hispanic cultures, Spanish-speaking countries and peoples in the region
- Reinforce and increase knowledge of other subject areas through content-based Spanish language instruction (e.g. Social Studies, English).
- Foster a love for foreign language study in all students
- Enhance the levels of achievement in Spanish at the secondary level
SPECIFIC INSTRUCTIONAL OBJECTIVES
Attainment of the goals stipulated above will be demonstrated by the students’ ability to:
- Ask for and give basic autobiographical information about themselves and others
- Identify and describe in simple terms familiar objects common to their home and school environment
- Express agreement and disagreement
- State likes and dislikes
- Ask for and give basic information about routine school and leisure activities
- Ask for and give basic information about selected aspects of local and Hispanic culture
SYLLABUS DESIGN AND INSTRUCTIONAL APPROACH
The design of the syllabus is guided by the following principles:
- Spanish learned at the primary level must anticipate and complement the secondary level Spanish curriculum
- Content and instructional activities must be consistent with the cognitive and affective developmental patterns, learning styles and interests of primary age children
- The development of cultural awareness is as important a goal as the development of linguistic proficiency
Complementing the Secondary Level Spanish Curriculum
The syllabus has a cyclical-thematic structure which is intended to provide ongoing reinforcement of key concepts and structures across the various levels of instruction. The primary focus, especially at the lower levels, is on developing oral skills, acquiring core vocabulary, and ensuring that students view learning Spanish as an enjoyable, ‘fun’ activity, and not as an additional ‘examination’ burden. Building intrinsic motivation for language learning at this level is critical. Students must be able to draw upon the positive experiences of learning Spanish at the primary level and embrace the challenge of mastering more difficult syntactic patterns at the higher levels of instruction. Developing a strong capability in oral communication at primary level, a major goal of this syllabus, will enable secondary level Spanish teachers to devote more instructional time to increasingly complex grammatical structures, the mastery
of which is required to attain the higher levels of proficiency targeted in the for the secondary school graduate.
Types of Learning Activities
Instructors are encouraged to make extensive use of games, songs, flashcards and other interactive learning resources with high mnemonic value to aid the learning process. The lexical scope of instruction can be expanded by contextualizing the vocabulary presented to reflect the realities of the specific communities within which the language will be taught, as it is a well known principle of language learning that meaningfulness aids acquisition. Teachers are asked to note in this regard that while the syllabus contains comprehensive vocabulary lists in certain thematic areas, students are not required to learn all the items, but only those which apply to their personal situation. Additionally, many of the in-class activities are designed to give students an immediate sense of accomplishment in the language, and thus lend themselves naturally to formative evaluation exercises.
Teaching of Culture
With respect to the teaching of Hispanic culture at the primary level, the intent is to increase students’ awareness of Spanish-speaking countries, especially those in Latin America and the Caribbean. Students should also be made aware of the legacy of Spanish culture and tradition in the development of their own nation. Such goals dictate that teachers focus not only on language-specific culture items such as the “piñata,” but also on more general knowledge. As such, it is expected that much of the teaching of cultural appreciation at the primary level will be conducted in the first language.
The themes, functional objectives and structures presented in this document are meant to be incorporated into the Primary curriculum, beginning at the Infants Level and sequentially developed across levels, under the tutelage of a trained and qualified teacher. The syllabus content and teaching/learning activities are not prescriptive, but are rather intended as samples, and where relevant and applicable, to serve as the basis for further development depending on the learning styles and aptitude of students. What is of primary importance is the need to ensure that the primary school syllabus be effected, not only with a focus on oral communication, but with the underlying purpose of making the learning of Spanish a pleasurable experience for all children, and in the process, increase their desire to further their study of Spanish.