K-12 World LanguageFLES FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions
What is FLES?
When you ask our students, they will tell you that FLES stands for FUN LEARNING in the ELEMENTARY SCHOOL. Although that IS true, FLES is an acronym that stands for Foreign Language in the Elementary School. It is an approach to language learning that allows students to develop basic communicative skills in a language while reinforcing and enriching content in other disciplines, specifically social studies and math.
The New Canaan Public Schools FLES model provides all students K-5 with language learning opportunities. Research studies have indicated that the early study of a second language results in cognitive benefits, gains in academic achievement, and increases in self-esteem, creativity, and positive attitudes toward diversity.
What does the New Canaan Public School FLES model look like?
The NCPS FLES model develops students' language proficiency by providing language instruction that supports the concepts taught in the core subjects. The NCPS FLES program is based on the research that shows that students are not only able to learn but are also highly engaged in learning content through the target language.
The design of the NCPS FLES program reflects the learning principle that it is more effective to teach FLES in small increments several times a week as opposed to longer instructional blocks once or twice a week. Although some flexibility in exact number of minutes and 4 or 5 times a week is allowed based on scheduling demands that vary from year to year, the current program is:
Kindergarten: 10 minutes, 5 days a weekFLES teachers “push in” to a classroom and language instruction supports the grade level curriculum in that academic grade.
Grades 1-4: 18 minutes, 4 days on a 6-day cycle.
Grade 5: 20 minutes, 4 days a week
What are the NCPS FLES Program goals?
The goals of the NCPS FLES program include all of the following:
- To develop and continually grow functional proficiency in all aspects of the language (listening, speaking, reading and writing) with each year of study
- To meet district, state and national foreign language standards
- To support and extend academic content area instruction
- To develop and strengthen higher order cognitive skills
- To promote global awareness and cross-cultural understanding
The NCPS FLES curriculum for each grade includes:
- Performance objectives
- Cultural integration
- Content/linguistic focus
The New Canaan FLES program is designed consistent with language acquisition research. Basing our program on content allows students to use language to communicate new ideas with their new language. Helena Curtain from the Milwaukee Public Schools & Mari Haas, Teachers College, Columbia University agree: “Incorporating subject content in early language programs puts language into a larger, more meaningful context and provides situations that require real language use”.
FLES instruction is proficiency-oriented. This means that there is a greater focus on meaningful and purposeful communication than on grammatical mastery. Students are encouraged first to understand and then to produce in the language. Just was with the learning of our native language writing and explicit instruction in grammar is introduced purposefully and as appropriate to the language development sequence. Therefore, we bring awareness to language at fourth and fifth grade, but wait to explicitly teach grammar points at the middle school level. It is important to mention, that any grammar discussion is done in context and for the sole purpose of communication. The target language is used by both teachers and students. The use of the target language is so complete that in many instances, younger students are unaware that FLES teachers speak English.
Unit Topics by Grade LevelKindergarten Unit Topics
Getting to Know My Classroom and Myself
People Who Need People
Reading Maps and Globes
First Grade Unit Topics
I Am a Member of My Classroom Community
In the Town of New Canaan
My Country ‘Tis of Thee
Las Dos Américas
Second Grade Unit Topics
Third Grade Unit Topics
Mi Clase es Tu Clase
Regions of the United States of America
Festivals and Celebrations of the People of China
Fourth Grade Unit Topics
Fifth Grade Unit Topics
What Motivates Me
A Timeline of our History
This I believe
It’s a Journey