World Language

Jennifer Bell
Maria Gamvas 
Caitlin Piper - Website

Choosing a Language

Learning any language enriches a child’s educational experience and broadens his/her cultural perspective. Both French and Spanish will prepare students for a global economy. Knowing either language will greatly facilitate travel and boost career opportunities.  Choosing which language to study is a personal decision.  The most important reason is student interest.  The best language to take is the one that he/she shows interest in learning. Students who have ownership of the choice are more likely to do well and enjoy it.  

Facts to Consider

Because Spanish is a phonetic language, it is considered to be easier than others.  More students across the United States choose to study Spanish than any other language.  Spanish is the official or primary language in 20 countries.  Over 400 million people speak Spanish worldwide and it is considered the 3rd most influential language in the  world.  The United States has the 3rd largest Spanish speaking population in the world as it is the 2nd most spoken language in American homes. 

40 % of the English language is derived from French and many French words and expressions are used in English. French is the language of cuisine, fashion and ballet. It  is the 2nd most studied language in the world (after English) and is considered the 2nd most influential in the world.   French is the official or primary language in over 40 countries on 5 continents. There is a strong Franco - American heritage in New England and Quebec is New Hampshire’s main trade partner.


Rye Middle School Language Program

At the end of 4th grade, students choose either French or Spanish to study in 6th through 8th grade.  The 6th grade curriculum is a continuation of the elementary program. Each unit will be reviewed and augmented.  In addition, spelling and writing become an integral part of the curriculum.  7th and 8th grades make up French/Spanish Level I.  Workbooks, listening books, CDs, video and computer programs all supplement the textbook. All language programs utilize role playing, props, games, music and movement for a multi-sensory approach. Culture plays a very large role in second language acquisition.  Students learn to recognize both differences and similarities in the people, institutions and celebrations of other countries. 
The majority of students who complete the WL program at RJH are prepared to enroll in the Level 2 language class in high school.


1. Shouldn’t my child be fluent after taking the same language for 6 years?

      That depends on what “taking” means.  Fluency is a result of at least 7 years of daily study and commitment to learning the language. Usually it is also necessary to spend time in a country where that language is spoken.  The goal of our language programs is to give students a good foundation so that they will be able to have simple conversations and have continued success studying world language in high school and college.

2. My child wants to take French, but I want him to take Spanish.  Should I let him?

      Studying either language will benefit your son both intellectually and culturally, but he should take the language that interests him. Students do better when they are interested in a subject.  He may even decide to take Spanish in high school, which, after having learned French, will be easier for him. 

3. Are students allowed to switch languages from grade to grade?
     Students spend equal time learning French and Spanish at Rye Elementary School. In 5th grade they choose a language to study full time during their years at Rye Junior High. 

4. It seems like my child is studying some of the same vocabulary he had last year.  Shouldn’t he be learning something new?

     Learning a new language requires a lot of review. Most vocabulary units do not have an end; there’s always more to learn!  While it may look like the same words, there are more added each year. For instance, they may learn the days of the week in 4th grade and revisit them again when learning how to discuss school schedules, or sports and activities, etc.

5. My 2nd grader is having trouble reading English. Should she study a language?

     In most cases, yes.  Studying a second language enhances a student’s skills in English. Many children all around the world are bilingual!


6. Is it really necessary to start a language in kindergarten?

       It’s not necessary, but it is ideal.  Studies show that learning a second language at an early age facilitates acquisition and allows for more native pronunciation.

7. Shouldn’t we be teaching Chinese?

       And German, Russian, Japanese….that would be great!  For every parent who wants one language, there’s another who wants a different one.  Most elementary schools do not offer any language, so we are fortunate to be able to offer  French and Spanish.  Our language department has been in contact with the One World Language School in Durham and wholeheartedly supports their after school program.  And yes, they have Chinese! 

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