AUTHOR: MONIQU

HED:After-school Spanish classes set for January

By Monique Harrison

Daily Journal

Tupelo students in grades K-4 will have the opportunity to participate in after-school Spanish classes beginning in January, officials said Tuesday at Tupelo Public Schools' regularly scheduled board meeting.

The elementary program was approved this spring, after the Association For Excellence in Education offered the district a $15,000 grant.

AEE, an organization designed to generate private money for public schools, donated the money but asked that the district provide matching funds, bringing total program funding to $30,000.

The after-school classes are expected to be taught at all six K-4 schools.

District buses will provide students with transportation home from the school sites.

Because classes will be taught at each neighborhood school, transportation costs are expected to be minimal, officials said.

The elementary Spanish program's curriculum will rely heavily on oral instruction, with some community volunteers fluent in Spanish called upon to assist in the program.

"This won't include the level of verb conjugation and similar activities so many of us are accustomed to," explained Director of Curriculum David Meadows. "Students will be expected to be fluent in the spoken word. That's what we feel is most important."

That emphasis on oral communication will be seen districtwide, as junior high and high school foreign language courses also shift emphasis, Meadows said.

"This is a change that will be seen at all levels," he said.

Meadows said he also expected to see additional foreign language courses offered to students in grades five and six. The measure is designed to provide youngsters with continued exposure to the program so they won't lose the edge gained by early foreign language instruction.

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