Foreign Language Instruction in Kindergarten

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Byline: Mick Zawislak By Mick Zawislak

Students in Oak Grove School Elementary 68 next year will get more concentrated doses of foreign language instruction.

Starting in kindergarten, younger students in the district for the first time will be introduced to a foreign language, while older students will be given the choice of taking Spanish or Mandarin. French will be phased out.

"Mandarin is becoming more and more valued by the professional workforce. Companies are doing more and more trade with China," said Superintendent Janice Matthews.

She said Libertyville High School, a feeder school for Green Oaks-based District 68, began offering Mandarin this year.

"It's really a growing language being taught in this country," she said.

The changes, approved by the school board this week, come after months of review by a foreign language task force comprised of parents and staffers. The new program will mean younger students will get more foreign language instruction at an earlier age.

"Now, we're going to start at kindergarten. That's a huge difference," Matthews said.

"They can have a lot of years learning the same language."

Oak Grove students have not been exposed to foreign languages until the fourth grade. Fourth- through sixth-graders received a seven-week rotation each year, but because of the timing, a student could go more than a year without any foreign language at all, Matthews said. …