Foreign Language Instruction
“El lenguaje es lo mas humano que existe. Es un privilegio del hombre… Cada palabra lleva consigo una vida, un estado, un setimiento.”
“Language is the most human thing there is. It is the privilege of mankind… Every work carries within it a life, a state, a feeling” - Carmen Conde Abellan, Columbian poet and educator
The aim of the study of language is to develop in the children the ability to
communicate. Communication is an art that enables us to have a glimpse of
another person’s inner life and thus cultivate an interest in others. Each human language reflects a unique way to think and view the world. Through the study of Spanish at Desert Marigold in grades K – 8, the students have the opportunity to experience the soul of several different cultures, and in this fashion enrich their own ways of thinking, feeling and acting.
The objective of language teaching in Waldorf education is to offer the students the opportunity to live in the “genius” of the language. By experiencing the musicality and individuality of Spanish, through daily rhythms, repetition, and recapitulation, the students develop the capacity to think by letting the language penetrate their being.
“Through the inner flexibility of their speech organ, the children find their way to a flexibility of soul and an openness that has an effect on their entire later life and especially on their social abilities. The foreign language lesson is suited like practically no other lesson to encourage openness and awaken interest for what is foreign to oneself – and in our time of widespread racism and social conflict on both small and large scale this is a pedagogical mission of first order.” -From the workbook ‘Forming the Lessons of Grades One through Eight’, written for thePedagogical Section and published by Rudolf Steiner College.
The teaching of Spanish progresses through the grades in harmony with the stages of development of the students. In the preschool and kindergarten years, Spanish is brought to the children as a part of their circle activity. The imaginations in the circle alternate seamlessly between English and Spanish, so that the children may experience the foreign language for the first time in a natural and non-threatening way. During first through third grade, Spanish continues to be presented orally but it is now a lesson of its own. The students still learn through their power of imitation. Vocabulary and grammar are not made explicit, but they are woven into songs, games and activities. The children learn the language, one might say, unconsciously. Fourth and fifth grade are transition years. The before prevalent imitation forces are now becoming replaced by a new sense of individuality, enabling the students to apprehend the language in a more conscious way. The material from the previous three years is recapitulated, and reading, writing and the first notions of grammar are introduced. In the middle school grades, the students are exposed to increasingly complex grammar concepts and varied literary forms of expression. Intellectual challenge strengthens the growing forces that yield the capacity for analytical thinking in adolescence. As the students move through the grades, aspects of the main lesson curriculum from the previous year are echoed in Spanish class, helping to reinforce past experiences while enlivening them.
In the process of learning Spanish through Waldorf methods the children will first and foremost develop the capacity to become open and welcoming to new situations and human encounters. The early introduction of oral Spanish in an immersion situation also enables the children to enrich their speech development with the sounds of Spanish, yielding the ability to speak the foreign language with little or no accent, should they develop fluency through continued study after eighth grade. In keeping with the aim of the lower school curriculum in general, the goal of foreign language study is not to produce precocious results – e.g. a particular degree of fluency – but rather to develop foundational capacities that will bear fruit later in life. Depending on individual aptitude and effort, students will either find themselves with a solid foundation for High School level Spanish I or be placed directly into Spanish II level courses.
It is the mission of Desert Marigold School to encourage students to be life-long learners and independent thinkers, as well as self-disciplined, creative, adaptable and responsible individuals. Spanish language instruction at Desert Marigold constitutes an integral part of the curriculum and works in synergy with all other subjects to nurture all aspects of each student’s physical, emotional and spiritual growth.
“Ante todo lo demas esta la infancia. La huella de los primeros anos, los que deciden para siempre lo que vamos a ser.”
“Above everything else is childhood. The footprint of the first years will decide forever what we shall become.” – Josefa Rodriguez Alvarez (Josefina Aldecoa), Spanish poet and educator.