Holy Angels was recently recognized by the publishers of Today’s Catholic Teacher magazine at the annual National Catholic Educational Association’s convention in Cincinnati. Holy Angels was one of three finalists for the Innovations in Catholic Education (ICE) award presented by the magazine for innovations in curriculum. The award was presented for the unique World Languages Program at Holy Angels which includes Spanish, German, and Chinese.
In order to prepare students for a multi-cultural interdependent society, Holy Angels School supports the importance of offering a sequential program of study in world culture and language. Several outcomes of the program at Holy Angels include: 1) the ability to communicate in a second or third world language, with emphasis on the development of listening, speaking, reading and writing skills; 2) an awareness of and appreciation for God’s gift of diversity in other cultures; and 3) provision for the option of advanced placement in the high school world language program for those students who choose to continue in a world language. A basic belief that a world language program is important for everyone mandates that the program be part of the regular school curriculum, at all grades, for all students.
In selecting languages/cultures to be taught in the program, German, Spanish and Chinese were chosen for various reasons. The German heritage is an important aspect of both the West Bend and Wisconsin communities, and the country of Germany has become a noted economic/business partner with the United States. The influence of Spanish culture continues to grow in most areas of the country and is an important consideration for the twenty-first century American society. The growing prominence of Chinese in the global community makes it a language and culture of great interest for present and future generations.
As much as possible, the study of world language/culture correlates with other areas of the curriculum, such as social studies. Therefore, world language is considered to be both an extension of other areas of curriculum and a curriculum in its own right.
Students in grades kindergarten through grade five receive instruction in German, Spanish and Chinese language and culture on a rotating trimester schedule. Students in grades six through eight concentrate on one of the world languages for three years. This language is chosen prior to sixth grade placement. By the end of eighth grade, it is possible for students to complete the equivalency of level one at the high school, in their respective language.
While a world language/culture program affects many facets of development, several intentional outcomes can be readily identified. These outcomes, which can be identified as goals, include such things as: vocabulary development, transfer of reading skills, positive attitude and self-concept development, increased creativity, development of communication skills and a better understanding and working knowledge of one’s native language.
The World Languages Program has been a part of the Holy Angels curriculum for more than twenty-five years. It is supported by the Stehling Project which is funded by the Thomas Rolfs Foundation.