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Middlesex residents help CA students explore foreign cultures

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Students Harper Stanley, Brennan Williams and Brady Dunlevy, all of Urbanna, study with Chesapeake Academy language teacher Emily Edmonds of Christchurch.

When Emily Edmonds of Christchurch meets the pre-schoolers she teaches at Chesapeake Academy, she is likely to be greeted not with a shout of “good morning,” but with a rousing chorus of “buenos dias!”

Edmonds moved to Christchurch in 2013 with her husband Matthew, who is a teacher at Christchurch School. In her first year at Chesapeake Academy, Edmonds has joined veteran foreign language teacher Lilith Andersen of Hartfield to provide instruction in foreign language to every student enrolled at the school.

At Chesapeake Academy, language instruction begins in Pre-K 3&4 and is part of the curriculum at every grade level. Edmonds meets with younger students through fifth grade and says that youngsters’ brains are “wired for language at this age,” and from week to week they show marked proficiency.

“The instructional methodology we use is called teaching proficiency through reading and storytelling,” Edmonds explains. The youngest students begin by learning the Spanish words for numbers, colors, shapes, body parts and animal names. Older ones read books and often act out stories in which they communicate with each other in Spanish.

Sixth-graders exchange their Spanish texts for one with the enticing title “Latin is Fun.”

“We believe that learning Latin is especially helpful in building vocabulary skills and preparing students for further study in modern foreign languages and in English,” said Andersen, who came to Chesapeake Academy in 2007 and created the Latin curriculum six years ago.

Andersen, who also teaches high school Spanish to seventh and eighth-graders, notes that the payoff for studying Latin is apparent almost immediately. “Students returning to study Spanish more formally as they prepare for high school are more adept at making connections among words and sentence constructions that are similar in English or Latin,” she said. 

Classes in the upper grades are a mixture of vocabulary-building, reading, writing, conversation and cultural studies. 

posted 01.08.2014

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