DOVER -- Dover School Principal Bill Anton says the Rosetta Stone software was a good supplement and an excellent move for his school, but alone, it was insufficient.
His feeling, which was shared with Windham Central Supervisory Union Superintendent Steven John, was that an instructor should be interacting with kids one-on-one in between using the software program.
"The kids who are in their second year are reading much faster, especially kids who have kept the same language," Anton said. "A lot of the kids chose a different language the second year. I think some kids felt they were preparing for middle school. Also, the initial language may have been more challenging."
On Oct. 8, the Dover School Board discussed the second language program, in which students choose a language they want to learn through Rosetta Stone. The computer software allows people to learn languages using a variety of exercises. This marks the second school year that students are using the software to learn another language.
Anton said he thought if a student chose a language that was not as dominant, such as Arabic, that child should receive one extra session with an instructor and another independent work session each week because of the language's difficulty.
When a member of the public asked if the instructor responsible for teaching foreign languages could use Skype for the lesson, Anton said it was something the board and administration would have to explore.
John brought up the advantage of designating one faculty member as the primary second language teacher and speaker. He cited research that had shown children who have parents who each speak a different language to them have had greater success in understanding context in the two different languages.
"The computer is trying to simulate that but don't underestimate the power of actual live situations," added John. "Immersion can be accomplished in a multi-lingual setting. It doesn't mean you have to be in another country."
Anton said he was happy where the program was currently at and glad that a two-year pilot was done.
Eleven different languages were chosen by students last year. This year, 10 languages have been chosen. Spanish attracted the most students, with French close behind.
One child was studying Arabic, two children were learning Chinese and three were taking Russian.
"There's kids identifying Russian characters," said Anton. "It's really good academic work. I may feel different in January but for now, I'm feeling good."
John touted the benefits of approaching languages orally, rather than reading and writing.
"In our academic approach, (reading) helps some learners," he said. "But when you want to think about universal learning, people learn without reading."
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.