Middle School level
Students begin the study of a second language in grade six choosing German, French or Spanish. Students in grade six will meet daily for 40 minutes of instruction. Students in grades seven and eight will meet for 80 minutes of instruction on an alternating day cycle. This will provide for 400 minutes of instruction over a two week period. The second language program is designed to develop communicative proficiency – the ability to use the second language to interact positively with a native speaker of the chosen language. Instruction is provided in the four basic language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. Cultural studies are an integral part of the program. The middle school second language program enables students to meet the New York State second language requirement of two units of study prior to the completion of grade 9. Students who successfully complete the regular grades six through eight foreign language program are prepared to take the New York State Second Language Proficiency Examination in that language. Students who pass than examination receive one unit of high school credit for their middle school experience and may enter a course at the second level of study in that language in the high school.
A full-time English as a Second Language teacher provides services for students with limited English proficiency. In addition to providing direct instruction in English grammar and pronunciation and skills development in listening, speaking, reading and writing, an ESL teacher helps students deal with the school’s academic expectations in all subject areas. ESL students face the double challenge of improving their English skills and meeting subject area expectations. ESL students often face misunderstandings and problems that can result from both cultural differences and the language barrier. The ESL teacher frequently assumes the role of advocate for their students in resolving these difficulties. Regulations require ESL instruction for students for whom English is a second language.
High School level
Students continue the study of a second language begun in the middle school or begin the study of a third language. The general goal of the department is to teach languages in a “communicative approach” so that students achieve a level of functional proficiency in reading, writing, speaking and listening in the new language that leads to success on the Comprehensive Regents examination administered after the third year of study in the high school.
The program offers a five-year sequence in French, Spanish, and German, and a three-year sequence in Italian. In French and Spanish an accelerated program is offered which allows students to earn up to six units of college credit or to initiate the study of another language after completing the Regents examination. Students may also earn up to three college credits in German.
Also offered through the Second Language Department is an English as a Second Language (ESL) program which offers primary instruction and classroom support to students who enter Guilderland schools learning English as a second language.