Languages are best learned in context, and languages are inherently about community. For those reasons, we take a unique approach to learning Spanish at Aim Academy. Rather than focusing on Spanish itself in our intermediate class, we use Spanish as a vehicle to study other academic subjects. This approach is known as Content-Based Instruction (or CBI) in the United States and as Content and Language Integrated Learning (or CLIL) in Europe.
Students may want to spend multiple years in our Advanced Spanish class. For this reason, we rotate topics each year (health one year, followed by economics, then geography, then current events). During their time in this class, students are exposed to a wide range of real-world topics while they work to improve their Spanish communication skills. Since we embed different subject areas into our intermediate Spanish course each year, students can earn not only a Spanish credit, but also a credit for the other subject area that we study.
In our Advanced Spanish with Embedded Health course, we will use materials from many different countries to study different aspects of personal and community health, from human growth and development to nutrition to stopping the spread of infectious diseases. Throughout the year, we will look at posters, documents, and videos that teach about these different topics, and students will create projects each week that share (in Spanish) what they have learned. In this way, students will get contextualized practice with reading, listening, speaking, and writing Spanish. Students in this class will have varied backgrounds and ability levels, but each student will be able to tailor the work to his or her own needs.
We begin the school year with a pretest and end with a post-test. Otherwise, each week of class follows a uniform format, which is as follows: Each week has a topic related to the study of health (for instance, a week’s topic might be dietary guidelines, or disease prevention, or the importance of exercise). Students are presented with a list of materials in Spanish about that week’s topic (videos, infographics, blogs, websites, etc., as can be seen in this sample). Students spend time throughout the week reviewing those materials, and they create and share a project in Spanish about the week’s topic. Students are encouraged to be creative and have fun with their projects (projects from previous years can be seen here).
Students are expected to spend time doing things in Spanish at least five days each week, and they report their efforts on a weekly timesheet. The weekly timesheets and the weekly projects make up the bulk of their grade for the class.
Who should apply?
There are no formal prerequisites, but students in the advanced class should have already had several years of Spanish classes or other meaningful long-term exposure to the language. Students who are not comfortable with a class taught almost entirely in Spanish should consider our Spanish with Embedded Health class. Parents are welcome to contact David Nance with questions about student placement.
- High speed, broadband Internet
- headset and microphone (for live sessions)
- Streaming video capabilities to watch recorded lectures
Evaluation and Feedback
It is our belief that students learn best when they are comfortable and engaged in the work that they are doing. We also believe that languages are learned through large amounts of exposure to engaging, comprehensible input. Therefore, our focus is not on small details, but rather on the big picture. Students who complete their work in a timely manner and make a habit of participating in our weekly Live Class sessions can expect to do well in the class. Feedback on specific assignments tends to be supportive feedback rather than corrective feedback, but we do comment on common or easily avoidable mistakes. Students who are looking for more corrective feedback (particularly concerning the mechanics of the language) should consider supplementing this course with our self-paced Spanish Grammar course.
Barring unusual circumstances, we grade assignments within 48 hours and reply to student messages within 24 hours.
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