World languages starting early for some eighth graders

After adopting the suggested changes from last year’s foreign language committee, eighth graders  are now able to take a foreign language for the first time this year.

The eighth graders have the option to choose between Spanish I, French I and German I. German is taught by Gunda Brost and is only available at the Cedar Falls High School. French is available at both middle schools and is taught by Elaina Lloyd (Holmes) and Brittan Engels (Peet). Spanish is also available at both middle schools and is taught by Sara Blanco (Holmes) and Christine Gruhn (Peet).

This new opportunity has come with complications involving larger class sizes and more students commuting between the middle schools and the high schools, but having a class with eighth and ninth graders combined seems to be going smoothly.

“It’s alright and nice having other grades with you.” Emmy Nelson, a freshman taking Spanish I at Holmes Junior High, said about the combined classes.

“I think the Foreign Language classes that include both eighth and ninth grade students have been going well so far,” Jeremy Jones, the principal at Holmes Junior High, said about how this change is going.

Having 8th graders mixed in with 9th graders have made the class sizes significantly larger, which led to sending a class of 9th grade students up to the high school for a Spanish I class. “Larger class size has been the main difficulty this year,” Monica Jarchow, the Spanish I teacher at the Cedar Falls High School, said. “Also, due to budget constraints, we have been unable to attend, more than one educational conference per year.”

Spanish I is the language with the largest enrollment this year, Jarchow said. “Class sizes are larger due to increased enrollment, though no hiring of more teachers to accommodate the larger number of students. More students tend to choose Spanish because it is spoken more in the United States than other languages.”

This change has also made it so that more eighth graders have been having to go up to the high schools for a class. “This practice has been in place for many years in our district,” Jones said. “Our counselors work very hard to make sure the students who travel to the high school are set up to be successful with that transition.”

Even after the changes, however, some things remain the same as always. “The teachers of the world language department  all have the same passion for teaching a language as well as culture,” Jarchow said. “We are very supportive and helpful of each other as a group, and each teacher brings their own unique style to teaching the language.”

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