French

The French program at Maple Street is informed by what is best for the child in terms of learning language. Increasingly, research shows that interacting with language in meaningful ways is what makes it stick in your head.  In order to improve their level of proficiency, children need to engage with the language in a way that awakens the language-processing part of their brains. This is similar to, but not identical to, how they learned their first language. In French lessons at Maple Street, the language which students are exposed to is carefully planned for maximum but varied repetition of essential vocabulary and concepts while simultaneously focusing on age-appropriate tasks, topics, and activities that appeal to children.

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More About our French Program

As a basis for the French curriculum, the Maple Street program uses the Accelerative Integrated Methodology (AIM) which was developed by Canadian teacher Wendy Maxwell and is used in thousands of schools across Canada, as well in other countries including Australia, New Zealand, and the Netherlands.  Because of its success, AIM is growing in popularity in the US in recent years as well.  AIM is allied with the Standards for Language Learning published by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) and meets the recommendations  put forth by the National Network for Early Language Learning (NNELL).  AIM employs a combination of pared-down vocabulary, gestures to represent words, and lively plays and songs in order to engage students and foster their enthusiastic partnership in the language-learning process. Classes are conducted primarily in French, and students are expected to participate actively.

Grammar is implicitly embedded within the AIM lessons, but it is not explicitly taught until the upper levels at Maple Street. For example, as early as Kindergarten, students learn that some words sound differently when used for girls versus boys, and they continue to build on this knowledge as they increase their French lexicon throughout their years in the program.  However, students will not hear or use the explicit grammatical term “adjective agreement according to gender” until approximately seventh grade.  Similarly, students do not learn the conventional verb conjugation charts you may remember from your own high school language classes. Instead they learn to express themselves according to the meaning of the phrase, and subsequently make the discovery that some words change. For instance, the “go” in “Je vais au gymnase” (I go to the gym) is different from the “go” in “Elle va là-bas” (She goes over there) which is different from the “go” in “Vous allez au magasin pour acheter un jean” (You go to the store to buy jeans). In the seventh and eighth grades, students are introduced to conjugation charts and other more traditional forms of organizing grammar in preparation for high school.  Commonly, our older students find this approach to grammar easy to learn, since in essence, they know it already, having been exposed to it implicitly since Kindergarten.


Spanish

Spanish officially became a language of study at Maple Street School in the fall of 2017 and is offered to 7thand 8thgrade students. Meredith Morin, Director of Advancement and Communications at Maple Street teaches these classes. She spent her early career in education teaching Spanish and is happy to be back in the classroom.

Maple Street believes in multi-modal approaches to language learning, in both French and Spanish. By interacting in various and meaningful ways with a foreign language, students increase their depth of language learning. We hope to instill in our students a curiosity about the world and its languages that will last a lifetime.

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More About our Spanish Program

This is a two-year program of study designed to prepare students for a second year, high-school-level language course upon entering 9th grade. The curriculum is a two-year continuum of a Spanish 1 curriculum, which includes many aspects of language learning, from conversational components, vocabulary and grammar study, written work, speaking and listening activities and projects. Students will come away from their two years of Spanish with a good understanding of basic Spanish and ready to continue their study in high school. 

Both 7th and 8th grade classes work with various materials, including a textbook (Breaking the Spanish Barrier – Level 1), websites, articles, projects and games. Over this two-year course, students will participate in many listening exercises featuring a number of accents, for maximum comprehension. Spanish students at Maple Street School ideally enter high school ready for continued Spanish study, confident in their ability to speak, listen and learn. 

Photograph of Elizabeth Lindenberg
Elizabeth Lindenberg
French