FL second-graders ‘bridge’ the language gap

Community Editor
Submitted photo Students in Kirsten Ramsden’s second-grade class recently crossed a bridge signifying no more English in the classroom. The students will now speak strictly Spanish for the rest of the year.
Submitted photo
Students in Kirsten Ramsden’s second-grade class recently crossed a bridge signifying no more English in the classroom. The students will now speak strictly Spanish for the rest of the year.

Recently, students in Kirsten Ramsden’s Forest View Elementary second-grade class participated in a special ceremony to signify progress in language learning.

The students, some of the first in the district to have been offered a foreign language curriculum beginning in kindergarten, were part of a bridging ceremony on Dec. 15. The children crossed over from a classroom that was a mix of English and Spanish speaking and will now speak only Spanish (with exceptions when necessary).

“My students have gradually been working up to this point since September by earning points when they speak Spanish,” Ramsden said. “The bridging ceremony was an exciting moment for all of the students to truly push themselves in using their Spanish and also to surprise themselves with how much they knew.”

The points that the students earn are used to purchase rewards such as an item from the prize box, some chewing gum on “gum day” and lunch with the teacher, among other things.

“It amazes me to see the transition from the beginning of the year until now,” Ramsden said. “Many of the students who were struggling a lot when the school year began are now showing so much more confidence.”

The purpose of the bridging ceremony was to make the transition to full-immersed language learning an exciting one for the second-grade students. It also served to give the kindergarten and first-grade students something to look forward to. Third-grade students were also affected, as they will now step into the role of giving support and advice to the second-graders.

“Students will now be expected to speak Spanish at all times while in the classroom,” Ramsden said. “They will continue to earn points when they push their Spanish speaking skills to a new level by using more complex sentences and trying out new verb tenses. Students can, however, lose points if they speak in English.”

Currently in the district, language is integrated into the main classroom up to grade six. From that point on, foreign language is an elective and not a graduation requirement.