In the last two years, SMSD has considered several changes to the East language department. For the 2014-2015 school year, it has been decided that the German program will come to an end, and the class combining French 1 and 2 into a single accelerated year will be continued.
Karen Pearson has taught German classes throughout the district for 23 years. Since she started in 1990, she has noticed the East student population going down and that, combined with the addition of Chinese being offered, has caused the German program to dwindle in numbers in recent years.
“What’s happening is that, little by little, the German program is being phased out,” Pearson said. “I think what the District decided to do, especially because we’re in a budget crunch, is to take away the German programs from the schools where they have fewer students.”
Phasing out means that, this year, Pearson is teaching German 2, 3 and 4 and next year she will only be teaching 3 and 4. The district is allowing students already in the program to finish, but are not allowing any new students to join, so students that took German with the intention of testing in IB or AP will be able to do so.
Person currently teaches French 2, 4 and 6 in addition to German, and Laure Losey teaches French 3, 4 and 5 along with the pilot French 1 and 2 class. The district decided to offer the accelerated class again for the 2014-2015 school year.
“It’s a class for people who have had either experience in a foreign language or who are already taking a language or maybe have a parent who is from a different country,” Losey said. “So it’s easier for them to understand how a language works.”
Being a pilot class means that, depending on interest and how well students are doing in the class, it will be offered as normal course the following year. There are currently seven students in it, but Losey says that the small number is due to the fact that the class was approved by the district only two weeks before enrollment last year.
The advantage of taking the class, according to Losey, is that it gives students who did not take a language in middle school the opportunity to do the IB program or save time.
“I can only think the enrollment is going to go up,” she said.