Foreign Language in the Elementary Schools (FLES)

      randolph-supreme-court-2    randolph-supreme-court-1

Randolph Elementary students met with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in May 2016.  The students studied the life of Justice Sotomayor in Spanish class during Hispanic Heritage Month.  Students wrote her letters, under the guidance of their Spanish teacher Ms. Jaquelina Ferrara, and Justice Sotomayor responded by inviting them to a private meeting with her where they were able to ask questions about her life and experiences.

Program Goals:

  • To develop levels of proficiency at the Novice-Mid to Novice-High in Spanish at the beginning stage of language acquisition.
  • To provide a meaningful context for developing communication skills in Spanish.
  • To build an understanding and appreciation for the cultures of the Spanish-speaking world.
  • To strengthen the language competency of Spanish speaking students (native or heritage speakers).

The purpose of the FLES Spanish Program is:

  • To prepare students to begin developing functional skills in listening, speaking, reading, and writing in Spanish.
  • To provide a nurturing environment where students feel comfortable learning a second language.
  • To develop proficiency in oral and written communication in Spanish through the integration of language skills and concepts taught in the content areas.
  • To encourage all students to develop an openness, understanding and appreciation for other cultures.

FLES Implementation

School Year Implemented FLES Sites
2006-07 Glebe Patrick Henry
2007-08 Barcroft
2008-09 Ashlawn Claremont* Jamestown Key* McKinley
2009-10 Randolph
2011-12 Barrett Campbell Carlin Springs Drew
2014-15 Nottingham Oakridge Tuckahoe
2015-16 Abingdon Arlington Science Focus Arlington Traditional Discovery Long Branch Taylor

* Note: Funding through the FLES initiative was provided for the Immersion Program to expand the teaching of Spanish Language Arts, following a recommendation from the 2004-05 Immersion Program Evaluation.

Instructional Time

In APS, we have both an exploratory program, 60 – 80 minutes of instruction, and a proficiency-based model of instruction, at least 90 minutes of instruction. Click here to find out which model your child’s school uses.

Expectations for Language

Time is a critical component for developing language proficiency as indicated by the ACTFL chart below:

Time as a critical component for developing proficiency in a world language.
Time as a critical component for developing proficiency in a world language.

The expectations for students learning Spanish as a second language who complete the K-5 sequence are to attain the Novice-Mid level as described in the Proficiency Guidelines of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. At a Novice-Mid level, the student can engage in simple conversations, can speak and write short sentences, and can read and understand a brief text, among other skills.
Language expectations, themes, and vocabulary have been developed as part of the Scope and Sequence for FLES. These documents help to give an overview of what FLES students will be able to know and do by the end of the year.
Scope and Sequence Documents:

Curriculum and Instructional Materials

The FLES program follows the Arlington FLES curriculum framework, which is aligned with national and state standards. All students in the FLES program have access to high-quality instructional materials to help them develop the desired proficiency. Arlington utilizes a variety of resources, including Descubre el español, and the Viva el español series of materials.  These resources are standards-based and allow for cross-curricular connections.

Cross-Curricular Connections

The FLES curriculum in Arlington provides opportunities for making connections between Spanish and other subjects, namely math and science. For example, students in Second Grade practice math skills by counting by 2’s and by 10’s or by making a bar graph of the students’ favorite colors. This allows the students to learn specific vocabulary (colors, in this case) in an authentic context (talking about what they like) while at the same time practicing an important math skill (making and reading bar graphs).
In conjunction with the Science Office, curriculum was developed for Kindergarten through Fifth Grade that integrates specific science goals for each year group, aligned with Virginia Standards of Learning, with related content in Spanish.


FLES teachers conduct periodic formative evaluations to determine students’ progress in Spanish. The results of these assessments are used to modify instruction. Students’ language development is assessed more formally twice a year in Kindergarten, at the end of each semester, and quarterly for Grades 1-5 which is reflected in the report card.

Sixth Grade Spanish Options

There are various semester-long options available to students in Sixth Grade:

  • Introduction to Spanish for students who are newer to Spanish.
  • Transitional Spanish for students who have successfully completed successfully at least two years of FLES.
  • Spanish for Fluent Speakers 6th Grade for students who have native or near-native oral fluency.

These courses are paired with a semester of reading in English. If students are not reading at grade level, they will be recommended to take a year-long reading class.  For specific course descriptions and other language options, please refer to the Program of Studies.

FLES Brochure