An Intensive Approach to High School Foreign Language Learning


  • Beverly Wattenmaker

  • Beverly S. Wattenmaker (M. A. in Spanish, Case Western Reserve) is the Foreign Language Chairperson at Kenston Board of Education, Bainbridge, Ohio.


ABSTRACT  This article details a program of intensive foreign language learning at Kenston (Ohio) High School that starts with a 2 ½-hour-a-day class and ends with a three-week homestay on school time. The author shares an approach to using foreign language for communicating about matters that are relevant to the students. This approach, combined with a no-grade, no-fail system, allows the classes to develop a strong group feeling that has proved beneficial to both language learning and the success of the foreign homestays. A program for dealing with the disruptions created for other departments is also discussed. The real success of the program, according to the author, is how much the students learn about themselves as well as how successful they are in using the target language. While the trips provide important motivation, the author believes the intensive approach can be successful without them.