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Supporting the Students in Foreign Language Acquisition
[ ENGLISH |
ESPAÑOL ]

At Oxford Academy, we are all very fortunate to have an active parent group supporting our students. The classrooms are chock-full of proud and curious parents who are eager to get to know their students´ teachers at Back to School Night and Open House. Many choose to volunteer their time and energy for special foreign language projects and field trips (wanna help?!), which is greatly appreciated by all Foreign Language Educators. Unfortunately, there is very little time for individualized attention on these nights. So, if you have a question or concern that is not addressed here, please do not hesitate to contact me via email at TinaMatic@hotmail.com (checked regularly), or you may call the school's Main Office at (714) 220-3055 and I will return your message at my earliest convenience.

This page contains frequently-asked parent questions and my responses to them. I hope this will be a useful resource for all parties involved, and I welcome and appreciate your continued efforts to support student learning. I look forward to guiding your student on the road to FLUENCY ¡EN ESPAÑOL!, and I encourage and applaud your active participation in this rewarding and challenging endeavor!

SOME USEFUL TIPS for
What ALL Parents/Guardians Should Know
Spanish-speaking Parents/Guardians | Non-Spanish-speaking Parents/Guardians
Volunteers | Back To School Night | Open House | Parent Conference Information


What ALL Parents/Guardians Should Know
[ My Name!/ Dept. Chair/Target Audience/ Class Make-up/ Tutoring/ Articles ]

  • My name: Ms. Tina Matić (pronounced MA-teach, like the nicknames for "mother" and "teacher", stress on the MA)

  • My Department Chair: Mrs. Ann Powell-Cordon, Teacher of all levels of French and introductory levels of Spanish

  • Target Audience in Spanish Class: Students who began learning Spanish in a classroom setting (the majority of whom begin in 7th grade)

  • Spanish Class Make-up: Typically at Oxford, students who began learning Spanish in a classroom setting make up the majority. Of those, more than half speak another language at home which proves beneficial to foreign language acquisition. The minorities are students who are learning their first foreign language ever and also students whose first language was Spanish or who use it in limited or specific situations (such as in the home). This is significant because in almost all other schools in our district (and others in southern CA, and increasingly state-wide), there are separate classes of Spanish offered to native- or heritage-speakers because their needs are different and often go unaddressed in traditional foreign language classrooms. Having all of these groups in the same class poses some unique challenges for teachers, students, and parents, and it also offers great opportunities for learning. For this reason, I don't believe in treating all students the same; I challenge each of them according to their needs and expect to see a marked improvement in their knowledge and use of Spanish as the school year progresses.

    In the Advanced Placement class (an optional elective taken after the required Spanish III class) the majority remains those with a foreign language at home, and the number of heritage speakers of Spanish typically increases. For more information on AP Spanish Language, see the College Board website or the APCentral website.

    This is not to say that English-only speakers don't do well... in fact, in the first year that AP Spanish was offered at OA, Ashley Bloomfield scored a 5 (the highest score) and had had no other foreign language experience besides that which she obtained at Oxford and in the surrounding community! It is rare for non-heritage (or "standard", as the College Board refers to them) students of Spanish to score higher than a 4 (3 is passing), especially if they have no other language at home. Rare, however, is not impossible.

  • Free Tutoring is available! AP Spanish Language students may tutor lower level Spanish students for bonus points. Schedules must be approved ahead of time and hours must be logged for credit on a sign-in/sign-out sheet that remains in my room. Tutoring usually takes place in my room or in the library after school or during the lunch period. Tutors are prepared to help with vocabulary acquisition, grammar explanations, homework and project guidance, test preparation, and conversation practice. Parents who wish to schedule tutoring sessions for their student should contact me via email at TinaMatic@hotmail.com.

  • Some articles and websites, for your reading pleasure:

    Spanish-speaking Parents/Guardians

    ¡GRACIAS MIL VECES por apoyar el estudio del idioma natal de su hijo(a)!
    Siempre me sorprende cuando los latinos optan por estudiar el francés u otro idioma que no sea el suyo. Entiendo que quieren aprender otro idioma, que ya manejan bien el español... pero a ellos les dirijo las siguientes preguntas:

  • ¿Escriben en español sin error alguno?
  • ¿Saben todo lo que hay para saber de toda Latinoamérica y España?
  • ¿Conocen la historia de los países en esas áreas tan únicas del mundo, con su cruce de culturas y razas?
  • ¿Han disfrutado las grandes obras literarias de Cervantes, Unamuno, García Márquez, Neruda, Paz, Allende, Mistral, Ferré, Poniatowska, Cortázar, Borges y tantos otros autores latinos de renombre mundial?
  • ¿Conocen y pueden explicar el por qué de las matices de los acentos regionales del español - el caribeño versus el peninsular, o el rioplatense versus el de la sierra andina?
  • ¿Han degustado cada comida representativa de cada uno de los 20 y pico países de habla hispana - tortillas, las otras tortillas (de huevo, las españolas), las arepas, las pupusas, la hierba mate, el mofongo, la ropa vieja, unas buenas hallacas, el rico pastel de choclo y tantas otras delicias pan-latinas?

    Lo dudo.

    Por eso mismo, es un regalo enorme que le hace Ud. a su hijo(a), como madre o padre latino, el apoyarle en el desarrollo de sus conociemientos sobre el mundo latino. Hay tanto por conocer, y tanto que ellos pueden brindar a la clase, que para mí es un honor tenerlos matriculados en ella. Siendo de ascendencia serbia, lo que sé yo de la cultura del mundo latino se limita a lo que he vivido... y eso consta de mis estudios en el extranjero en Venezuela y España, mis viajecitos a los lugares turísticos de México y mis vivencias cotidianas al lado de mi esposo colombiano. Yo invito a mis alumnos latinos a que compartan lo suyo y que aprendan más de otros latinos que quizás no conozcan tan bien. Su dominio del idioma es precisamente lo que les ayudará a profundizar más en otros aspectos de esas culturas y naciones. Son afortunados de poder comprender más rápidamente lo que los demás darían un ojo de la cara por saber (y terminan pagándolo como adultos, en esta sociedad multilingüe donde el español ya no es un lujo sino una necesidad).

    Es importante tener en cuenta que a veces es más difícil aprender algo por segunda vez correctamente que aprenderlo por primera vez como hacen la mayoría de mis estudiantes. Por esa razón a algunos latinos que tienen errores calcificados (ya hechos parte firme de su habla después de muchos años de cometerlos inconscientemente) les cuesta mucho corregir lo que siempre creían que era correcto. Toma tiempo y esfuerzo sincero el deshacerse de las malas costumbres.

    Le recomiendo al alumno hispanohablante lo siguiente:

    Gracias de nuevo por su apoyo y la oportunidad de aprender de y con su hijo(a).

    Non-Spanish-speaking Parents/Guardians

    Helpful Hints for Parents of Foreign Language Students

    Parents often ask, “How can I help my child study in Foreign Language when I don’t know anything about it?” Here are some helpful hints for parents of students who are learning a second (or third) language, as well as for those who already speak the target language (Spanish).

    1. Ask to see your child’s agenda and homework regularly. This will ensure that he/she is completing the assignments given on a daily basis. By checking assignments, your child will know you are interested in seeing what topics are being discussed and in how he/she is progressing in the class and language. Ask questions of him/her, or you may elect to send me an e-mail or call me with questions.

    2. Ask your child to read aloud to you in the target language more than once a week for a minimum of five (5) minutes, maximum of ten (10) minutes, at a time – this allows for a focused reading. Daily practice will increase his/her fluency level and help to reduce anxiety about speaking in class. With regard to pronunciation, Spanish is a phonetic language. Focus on the pure vowel sounds:

        A = “ah”, like “a” in car

        E = “eh” (NOT “ey”), like “e” in lets

        I = “ee”, like “ea” in team

        O = “oh” (NOT “ou”), like “o” in more

        U = “oo”, like “ui” in fruit

      Spending too much time reading aloud may thwart fluency, as it could become a tedious exercise and work against the student’s motivation to learn Spanish – an extremely important factor for success in foreign language is interest level. Please encourage foreign language study outside of the classroom!

    3. For practice in comprehending spoken Spanish, allow your child to watch TV (Univisión, Telemundo and Telefutura networks are accessible to all, and many others are also available) and/or listen to the radio in Spanish (many varieties of music are on both AM and FM stations – one popular station with a target audience of young people is 107.1 FM). The speech may seem impossibly fast at first, but in time your child will develop an ear for the language and comprehend native speakers with ease.

    4. Students need to practice aloud before presenting in class. Ask him/her to perform oral presentations for you more than once. (Again, focus on pure vowel sounds, and enthusiasm in tone.)

    5. Encourage your son or daughter to go beyond what is expected in the class and explore the rich Spanish language and cultures around us! A foreign language class is different from other academic endeavors – the results of learning are immediate and moving if/when used in personal contacts with native speakers, and the process can be a fun sharing experience for your family! Motivation and family support are crucial factors for student achievement!

    Your support creates happier & more successful students!

    Volunteers for Special FL Events & Field Trips
    [ Special FL Events: Advanced Classes/ City Day/ International Dinner/ Field Trips ]

    The Foreign Language Department is always in need of volunteer services, especially during our special projects and field trips. An extra pair of hands is extremely helpful when taking lessons out of the classroom, as students seem to lose focus and become more "adventurous" outside of the traditional setting. Volunteer activities might include chaperoning, taking roll while entering and exiting the bus, completing administrative tasks (photocopying, filing, etc.), carpooling to and from cultural events, or delivering food or other items to the school. For intermediate and advanced classes, bilingual volunteers are especially appreciated as all activities are conducted in the target language.

    Department-wide special projects include the City Day Project and the Annual International Dinner. As a teacher of intermediate and advanced Spanish classes, I also organize special enrichment activities for students throughout the year to learn about Hispanic cultures first-hand and practice using Spanish in the surrounding communities. These include, but are not limited to, trips to Latin restaurants, museums, theatrical and musical performances, bookstores, tourist attractions, and community events. As a member of the FLA-OC, I also take AP students and others to the annual Weekend Spanish Camp in Big Bear in the spring.

    City Day is a target language immersion experience that happens in second semester (February/March), and lasts for two days (Schedule B and C) so that all students can enjoy one full block schedule period of the experience. Similar to the senior capstone course Virtual Enterprise, City Day offers students a unique experience in international business (see the color-coded comparisons below):

    FOREIGN LANGUAGE CITY DAYVIRTUAL ENTERPRISE
  • Students work individually and in teams
  • Students work individually and in teams
  • Approximately 2 months are spent on planning
  • Planning spans across the entire school year
  • Student groups form companies to sell products and services
  • Student groups form companies to sell products and services
  • Companies create business plans, forms, a logo, job descriptions, employee manuals, and advertisements
  • Companies create business plans, forms, a logo, job descriptions, employee manuals, advertisements, and financial reports
  • Companies create real products
  • Companies create virtual products
  • Actual photocopied Euros are used to buy and sell real merchandise, for practice with foreign currency
  • Virtual dollars are used to buy and sell virtual merchandise, and statistics are recorded in financial reports
  • Foreign Language is used for all transactions in planning and on City Day (all four skills are practiced: listening, speaking, reading, and writing); during the event, multiple languages are used and English is avoided as much as possible
  • English is used for all transactions, unless the AP Spanish Language class is called upon to help with written translations of VE materials or a bilingual VE student is willing to translate for their company
  • Students are evaluated based on their individual and group performance
  • Students are evaluated based on their individual and group performance
  • The Annual International Dinner is usually in March as well, and is the highlight of the school's International Week celebration of world languages and cultures. The International Dinner is an opportunity to build community, as well as being a very successful fundraiser for our field trips. Students and their families bring a homemade dish to share with everyone in attendance, drinks are sold by student clubs, paper goods are provided by the Foreign Language Department, and the entertainment is provided as well - students who perform in the International Assembly may also perform for the dinner. Tickets are usually $5 per person. Many alumni students come back to visit and enjoy good food and company at the International Dinner each year, and it's always a pleasure to see families in attendance supporting foreign languages and cultures. Attendance at this event ensures the student's participation in the optional foreign language field trips in the spring.

    Field trips are taken to a variety of places, based on level of language study:

    GROUPDATEDESTINATION
    Spanish/French C/C TBA Olvera Street, Los Angeles
    Spanish/French I TBA Olvera Street, Los Angeles
    Spanish/French II TBA 4th Street and surrounding area, Santa Ana
    Spanish/French III TBA Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA), Long Beach
    AP Spanish/French IV TBA The Getty Museum, Los Angeles

    We could always use plenty of chaperones on our department field trips. Please email me (TinaMatic@hotmail.com) if you're interested in joining us in our adventures to these exciting destinations!

    Back To School Night

    Open House Parent Conferences

    While all teachers at Oxford have two conference periods (one each day and two on Schedule A days), these are meant for curricular planning, organization, and assessment of student work. I prefer to meet with parents after school at any time between 2:45 and 4 PM, but I am willing to meet before school between 7:30 and 7:55 AM. All conferences must be pre-scheduled, as all parties must be in attendance: parents, students, teachers, and counselors. For this reason, the preferred method of contact between parents and teachers is via email. If you have a more pressing matter and wish to meet in person, please call the Main Office at (714) 220-3055 or send me email personally at TinaMatic@hotmail.com to schedule a time that is convenient for everyone involved.


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