More Foreign Language Courses Are Proposed

March 08, 1992|By Michael K. Burns | Michael K. Burns,Staff writer

Foreign languages would be taught in Harford middle schools and highschool programs would add Italian and Russian classes in a plan to come before the Board of Education tomorrow night.

Elementary school pupils would also get a quick look at foreign languages from a teamof roving instructors, one of a series of proposals developed by theschool system's foreign languages steering committee.

A recent survey of high school and middle school students and parents turned up interest in adding Italian and Russian to course offerings, possibly through accredited classes at Harford Community College, said languages supervisor Harve R. Bennett.

"There appears to be a strong interest in foreign language instruction, particularly in developing conversational abilities," Bennett said.

While the steering committee's recommendations will be subject to budget considerations and competition with other school needs, one immediate proposal will be filled this fall: offering German in all eight county high schools. French and Spanish are taught in all high schools, German in all but two.

This year, nearly 4,700 students are taking foreign languages, more than half the high school population.

Three middle schools offer a nine-week course exploring different foreign languages, said Bennett, who hopes to find the money to extend that opportunity to other middle schools.

In an innovative program that could inspire support for expanded foreign language offerings, Russian is being taught at two elementary schools by a visiting teacher from Murmansk.

Since September, pupils in Havre de Grace and nearby Meadowvaleelementary schools have been learning Russian language and culture from Tanya Mikhalkina, who was recruited by Harford through the efforts of a U.S. tour organizer.

Using dance, games, music and a stuffed bear named Micha, Mikhalkina has been teaching kindergartners and third-graders that foreign language can be fun.

Enthusiasm for the program, which school officials hope to continue in 1992-1993, may help bolster efforts for expanding foreign language classes in the county.

"It's been a wonderful program for Richard," said Connie Daub,mother of a Havre de Grace kindergarten pupil.

"He made up a songin Russian and speaks it to us at home. He's learning there is more to being on this planet than just this country."

Donna Lewis's daughter Mallory is teaching her sister and other children the new language she has learned.

"She always has something to tell us about the class when she comes home. It's a special thing for her."

Mikhalkina, whose 6-year-old daughter Anna is with her, hopes to resume theclasses next school year, if the school board approves the funds.

"I've been very pleased with the way the children have responded, they have made me proud," she said.

Her classes will present a festival of Russian song, dance and drama Wednesday afternoon at Havre de Grace Elementary to show what they have learned during the year.

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