Frequently Asked Questions
What type of curriculum and methodology does your program use?
The Language Link uses culturally rich curricula that immerse students in their target language through art, music, drama and games. An immersion approach is used in the introduction of the new target language, as well as for the content of the theme being studied, and all class management. This means that the classes are conducted entirely in the target language. English is used only in emergencies, and when communicating with parents.
At the more advanced language skill levels, we begin to study the geography and culture of the countries where the target language is spoken, connect with students in the countries we study, and travel as a group to meet our study partners. Visiting with their study partners gives the students a relevant way to engage with the language they are learning, and meaningful context for cultural competence they are developing. The experience is life changing for many and prepares students to become vibrant, global citizens of the future.
How will my child understand what is going on in class?
Your children will learn their target language the same way they learned their first language. The teachers will use many different communication techniques. Hand and body cues, gestures, stories, inflection, facial signals, songs, modeling the desired response, games and fun are all employed to make clear what is being conveyed. This way of teaching is known as Total Physical Response (TPR), and it is very successful in communicating in situations where the language is not understood. In a short time, they catch on to what is being communicated.
What is the class size?
The class size ranges from 8-12 students. The Language Link is committed to small class sizes. Because our focus is oral proficiency, smaller class size is required to give students plenty of time to practice expressing themselves in the target language. The smaller class size ensures that the teacher is able to engage each student each day in their target language.
Are the teachers native speakers? What are their qualifications?
The Language Link teachers are either native speakers or have native fluency because they spent some years living in another country. Our teachers are energetic, compassionate, creative, and well-spoken. Coming from various countries, they are gifted as natural teachers and each teacher brings a different view of the world. Our teachers have degrees from their native countries, some with degrees from the US. They all have either taught in The Language Link’s elementary school programs already or have other solid teaching experience with young children. All are fully trained in the curricula we use. All of our teachers have had background checks.
Is any prior exposure or knowledge of the language required?
No prior exposure or knowledge of the target language is required. We assume children enrolled in the beginning level classes are coming into the class with no previous exposure. For those enrolling in higher levels, previous exposure or study is required. The guidelines for this can be found in the registration page. If a child is advancing quickly, and could be challenged more, we will contact parents to suggest a higher level class.
What are the goals of the program and how much will my child learn?
Since each child is unique in his or her language development, much depends on motivation, support at home, and the number of classes your child takes per week. Our overall goal is that students exit the program with the ability to express original thought using the vocabulary and expressions they learned. They will have familiarity with the cultures they have studied and will learn about world geography.
If your child begins in kindergarten and continues twice a week through 5th grade s/he will be exposed to over 1500 words and some 300 expressions in their target language. This will be in addition to the language the teachers use for class management, and conducting class projects and activities.
The following is an overview of the first few stages in language learning and oral proficiency. Next to each phase, you will see which year the Language Link students are expected to achieve the different stages based on attending two classes per week.
- Year 1 – Novice Low, Preproduction (the “Silent Period”)
Show that they understand what’s been said by:
- Performing an act in response to a command (stand up, open door, write your name, etc)
- Pointing to an item/picture or person in response to a question
- Gesturing or nodding to show agreement or disagreement
- Saying “yes” or “no”
- Possibly answer questions with one word with heavy prompting by teacher (“Is the chair red or blue?” “Blue”)
- Year 2 – Novice Mid, Early Production
Show they understand and are learning to respond by:
- Answering with “yes” or “no”
- Answering questions with one word. For example, “Is the box big or little?” “Big.”
- Putting two or more words together (example: “small square”)
- Using repetitive language patterns ( “My name is John” “I am _____ years old” “I have ___ brothers and sisters” “My favorite color is ____” )
- Asking simple questions (“May I get a drink of water?” “May I go to the bathroom)
- Year 3 – Novice High, Speech Emergence
Show they can use the language to communicate by:
- Using 3 or more words and short phrases in response to open ended questions (for example, “What to you like to eat?” “I like to eat pizza” or “What do you want to do?” “I want to go to the park”)
- Using beginning introductory dialog (“Where do you live?” “I live on Queen Anne” )
- Using full simple sentences (example: “There are four pencils” “The pencil is under the table”)
- Using high frequency expressions and other memorized expressions with ease in appropriate context.
- Signs of originality are beginning to emerge by the end of year 3; student begins to replace nouns in memorized expressions in relevant context.
- Creates some sentences with conjugated verbs.
- Year 4 to 6 – Intermediate Low to Intermediate High, Intermediate Fluency
At different points in the last 3 years, students will communicate by:
- Using more complex statements with learned vocabulary (“ There are four pencils under the table, but they are not mine”)
- Stating opinions (example: “I think this food is too spicy”)
- Asking for clarification (example: “Should I write my name at the top or the bottom?)
- Beginning to share original thought, going beyond memorized expressions to communicate original ideas and creating with the language; may initiate conversations spontaneously without relying on questions or prompts.
- Conjugating most verbs in the present tense, experimenting with other tenses with some mistakes. Form starting to agree with subject. (example: “They are” instead of “They is”)
- Has basic vocabulary for making statements and asking questions to satisfy basic social and academic needs.
** Above stages adapted from SOPA proficiency assessment standards, and “Natural Approach to Second Language Acquisition: Modern Language Journal”, 6p. 325, 337; presented by Regla Armengol at the John Stanford International School Language Immersion Boot Camp.