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Free Kid's Language Classes Help Meet DPI Requirement

By Charlotte J. Muenzenberger
UW-RF News Bureau

MAY 13, 2005--UW-River Falls students in the College of Education and Professional Development taught free language classes in April to 90 area K-6 elementary school children.

The classes introduced children to other languages and at the same time focused on meeting education requirements for students. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction now requires UW-RF student teachers to teach modern languages to youth in grades K-6 as part of a new teacher licensing requirement.

UW-RF currently offers two teacher education courses to help students meet this standard. However, the new standard presents challenges for UW-RF students because very few area elementary schools offer the opportunity to teach modern languages.

Modern language Professor Lisa Myhre remedied this problem with her idea to bring children to UW-RF instead of sending university students to find a classroom in which to teach.

Myhre constructed a classroom, each consisting of two university student-teachers, to teach French, German, or Spanish to 15 elementary students. UW-RF students planned and developed curriculum for each class. Once children showed up for the first class, Myhre grouped them into respective languages, depending on language expertise of the student-teachers.

Myhre believes the classes provided a large benefit to the children. "They opened up a whole new world, another language and another culture," said Myhre. "We hope by sparking an interest in the children, they will learn more about new languages later in life and school. It's crucial they learn to interact now, when they are young. I feel language needs to start in elementary schools, and what better way to start than with these classes, said Myhre."

Curriculum allowed for parent involvement during 15 minutes of the last class. At this time children showed their parents all about the language they learned.

Deb Toftness, mother of 10-year-old Zack Toftness, commended the classes for exposing her son to a different culture. "He loved to learn a new language. His older siblings have learned other languages in school, and this encouraged him even more," said Toftness. "The students were excellent teachers and really brought the language down to a level my son could understand."

The following education students, listed by hometown, met the new DPI requirement by teaching at the free language classes:
Wisconsin:
Baldwin, Trista Wernland- 5th grade Spanish
Black Creek, Sarah Bubolz- Kindergarten French
Frederic, Mike Moats- 4th grade French
Monroe, Brandon Berrey- 3rd grade German
New Richmond, Stanza Hundt- 2nd grade Spanish
River Falls, Andrea Chaffee- 2nd grade Spanish
Spring Valley, Nancy Wellington- 3rd grade German

Minnesota:
Inver Grove Heights, Sara Winter- 1st grade Spanish
Lake Elmo, Katie Bernardy- 3rd grade Spanish
Stillwater, Stephanie Sandgren- 1st grade Spanish
Woodbury, Melissa Buege- 4th grade French

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Last updated: Tuesday, 22-Jun-2010 16:21:24 Central Daylight Time

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