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Language program change aimed at preparation

| Thursday, March 20, 2003

One size does not fit all Elizabeth Forward eighth-graders.

Recognizing as much, middle school officials plan to offer two language options -- one for students ready to jump into studying a foreign language and another for those who need to bone up on their English. And officials are offering still another option to help students hone their skills for the state's PSSA test.

For students ready to take a year of foreign language, Spanish and French will continue to be offered. Upon successful completion, students will earn credit for one year and move onto the next level of the same language in high school.

But Assistant Principal Jennifer Meliton points out that not all students are ready to tackle a foreign language.

"They still have English issues they have to work through before they start launching into something else," she said. "We have created two different levels, so that the kids can complete their middle school career and move to the high school with a great background."

The second, non-credit level offers a brief introduction to Spanish and French, as well as the history and culture of the languages. It also helps students make an informed choice about the language they'll take in high school, Meliton said.

Another program, called LAMPS -- Learning, Achieving, and Mastering for personal Success -- focuses on skills tested in the PSSA. Participation is based on teacher recommendations and is offered in place of foreign language.

And a six-week class to start next year will help eighth-graders improve their research skills -- mostly on the Internet. It will be taught by librarian Brenda Hoffman.

"There is so much to offer in the library that Brenda actually needs an entire course to walk the kids through all the different possibilities," Meliton said. "She wants the students to be able to walk into the research section of our library and find a real book and actually find the materials in addition to what they find on the Internet."

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