Welcome to Laurie Goodman's blog. I use this space to share news and opinions about education and schools in Ridgewood, the state of New Jersey and the nation, in addition to other issues I'm personally interested in. I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, questions or opinions, too, by posting comments on any blog entry. Please observe basic courtesy -- keep your comments focused on issues, no personal attacks or bullying, please. Contact me directly at: lauriegood@mac.com

Friday, August 28, 2009

¡Que bueno! Spanish program for grades 3-5 looks really good

At the 8/24 Board of Ed meeting, we approved some new textbooks and curricula for the 09-10 school year. One of these was the interactive software program that will be used in grades 3-5, since we had to eliminate the Spanish teachers in those grades due to budget pressure. I wanted to let you know that the program we approved -- Rosetta Stone -- is much better than, frankly, I expected it to be.

I was a little worried. I mean, Rosetta Stone -- isn't that one of those "learn to speak a language overnight" cassettes they sell in the back of airline magazines? Well, I checked it out and, while yes Rosetta Stone is marketed in in-flight and other magazines, it is also becoming more widely used in schools. I played around with the program. What I learned -- and what impressed me -- was the way it uses voice recognition technology. Each student logs in and follows speaking prompts that allow the software to recognize his or her voice. During lessons, students speak and the software hears their pronunciation and self-adjusts the lessons to give feedback and extra practice where needed. Students cannot progress to the next level until they meet certain proficiency. In addition to the assessment tools built-in to the software, classroom teachers from every school have been attending special training sessions to allow them to supplement the computer lessons and practice with games, projects and lessons on Spanish culture.

Would it better if we could have Spanish teachers teaching our students in grades 3-5? Probably. But I believe the Rosetta Stone program will give our children real Spanish skills. Of course we'll be looking for feedback from students and parents throughout the year...but as someone who studied extensively and was fluent in Spanish and Russian (at one time!), I am actually feeling pretty positive.

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