Teaching Languages and Cultures in K-6
In 1995, the Regional Center for Languages and Cultures at Bennington College, under the aegis of Isabelle Kaplan, started offering language and culture classes in local schools. Today, Bennington College students teach Chinese, French, Japanese, and Spanish to elementary-age students in Bennington and North Bennington and offer international culture lessons that they design with the support of the Bennington faculty.
In 2013, Bennington College language faculty members Sarah Harris and Noëlle Rouxel-Cubberly—aided by faculty member Ginger Lin for Chinese—began supervising advanced Bennington students of Spanish, French, and Chinese to provide weekly language instruction to students pre-K through 6th grade at the Village School of North Bennington (VSNB).
In fall 2016, Sarah, Noelle, and faculty member Ikuko Yoshida taught a one-credit course to Bennington College students called “Teaching Languages K-6," which was aimed at preparing students to teach in local schools. That same term, Bennington College students began teaching Japanese to 3rd graders at Bennington Elementary, as well as lessons on Japanese culture at the Bennington library. In conjunction with these classes, Ikuko led a tutorial for these student teachers to learn additional methods and techniques of foreign language teaching to apply in the classroom. Beginning in 2017, lessons were offered in the library for Vietnamese and Italian, which will expand to include both Spanish and French in 2018.
The language program at VSNB is now in its fifth year, and has received very positive feedback from teachers, students, parents, and the more than 40 Bennington College students who have taught in the program.