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Updated 12:15 PM September 2, 2008




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U-M, A2 Public Schools partner to teach third-grade Spanish

A new School of Education initiative will provide foreign language instruction to every third-grader in Ann Arbor Public Schools beginning the fall of 2009.

Through the newly formed Ann Arbor Languages Partnership, U-M world language teacher education students fluent in Spanish will receive intensive preparation then teach the language to third-graders. The program will be offered in all 21 Ann Arbor elementary schools for two 30-minute sessions each week. It will be expanded to include fourth- and fifth-graders starting in 2010-11.

The apprentice teachers will be supervised by U-M faculty and mentored by the media specialist in each school.

"It's a truly win-win situation for everyone,'' says Donald Freeman, associate professor of education and director of teacher education. "Children will learn Spanish from the U-M apprentice teachers, as these new professionals are learning themselves."

The finances are mutually beneficial as well. Without the partnership design, the district would have to spend nearly $1 million for such a program. The joint program allows the School of Education to create a professional learning laboratory for its work in world languages while responding to the increasing need for K-12 certified Spanish teachers in Michigan and around the country.

The new program, which will be further refined by U-M and the Ann Arbor School District this year, is based on the Common European Framework, a Council of Europe language policy framework currently used in many nations around the world.

The framework organizes language according to learners' goals. It is linked to a print or digital Language Passport, which is a language assessment and documentation process that is recognized worldwide.

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