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North Island students mind their languages

Jessi Coppick, Grade 5 Aspen Park Elementary School student, uses Rosetta Stone software to learn Dutch in the Comox Valley.  - Photo by Renée Andor
Jessi Coppick, Grade 5 Aspen Park Elementary School student, uses Rosetta Stone software to learn Dutch in the Comox Valley.
— image credit: Photo by Renée Andor

Some Comox Valley students are learning four languages this year in a pilot project by Navigate, formerly known as North Island Distance Education School.

Jamie McCance, a Navigate international languages support, is conducting the project using Rosetta Stone Explorer software with Grade 4 to 8 students. But the pilot is also being tested on Grade 5 and 6 students from Aspen Park Elementary School.

“I am not only looking at the benefits of the Explorer program for Navigate’s distributed learning students, but also for students in traditional schools,” said McCance.

“I think it’s super super cool. I wish I had had something like this (at that age).”

The computer program is designed to introduce students to four languages in a single year through a series of six-week learning cycles. Students individually choose four of 23 languages, including French, Spanish, German, Arabic, Japanese, Persian or Hindi.

Aspen Park students are learning three languages because the decision to add the school to the pilot project came after Navigate students had started. Aspen Park students just started their first language on Jan. 19, but Grade 5 student Jessi Coppick, who is learning Dutch, said she’s already impressed.

“It’s really fun,” said Coppick. “It makes it so much more easy cause they go over it and over it.”

Grade 5 student Harry Buckle, who is learning Chinese, agreed and said he’s already learned “quite a bit.”

“It’s cool because it gives you grammar, spelling and how to say it,” explained Buckle. “Once I repeat a couple things, I actually understand what everything would mean.”

Navigate already offers the program to students in Grade 9 and up, but wants to offer it to younger students starting this September, which is why it’s conducting the pilot project.

“It’s our hope (to offer the program this September), but this feedback from the pilot is going to help us make that decision,” said McCance. “We’re taking it all, good or bad, but for the most part it’s been really good and the kids are excited.”

Meanwhile, Navigate also offers a new Rosetta Stone program to students in Grade 9 and up.

TOTALe has the same features as the regular program, but adds online studio sessions with a native speaker and one to four students.

Navigate French and Spanish teacher Derek Brenchley said the “social component” helps to ensure students stick with the course.

“Many of them start and don’t continue because learning a language is a hard thing to do,” said Brenchley, who compares the studio sessions to a job or traditional school. “That piece where you’re showing up for something — so with this new program you actually show up.”

Students book classes on their own schedule, and Brenchley said there’s no limit to the amount of studio sessions students can do.

He believes the course will be popular with people who like to travel, and is currently taking Italian himself.

“I found that the sessions were fun, engaging and very useful in helping me improve and reinforce my very basic Italian,” said Brenchley.

For more information on the Rosetta Stone programs offered by Navigate, visit www.nides.bc.ca.

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