“[The students receive] a high level of literacy in two languages,” Mooshagian said. The program is beneficial to the school because it is able to maintain a high population and high test scores, he added.
“Students are happy with the program,” he said.
The program is several years old and offers instruction in Spanish, German, Korean, Italian and Armenian at other schools throughout the district. The program was awarded two rare grants by the U.S. Department of Education to allow the program to offer education in Spanish at Toll Middle School and Korean at another middle school campus by 2013.
Students enrolled in the FLAG Armenian program are part of the Heritage Language Magnet Program. All students are assessed before enrolling in the program to determine their success level, due to the rigorousness of the program and the requirement of having to learn a different alphabet.
Instruction is also given in English, which occurs in the latter part of the students’ day. The children in Chobanyan’s class learn through storytelling, writing assignments, reading assignments and music — all in Armenian. Students are given homework to do each night, are given spelling tests each week and also work with their parents at home. Students enroll in the program in kindergarten.
Overall, Chobanyan said, her kids are excited to learn the Armenian language, history and culture.
Students are also able to connect with their heritage and maintain their identity, she said.
Singing “Armenia, My Father Land” is just one example of that, she added. Her goal is to give her students the ability to maintain ties with Armenia and to contribute to its development.
“We have an oral expression period where they get to speak Armenian, so they learn many new words,” Chobanyan said.
KIDS TALK BACK
The Glendale News-Press visited Hasmik Chobanyan’s third-grade Armenian-language class, offered as part of the Foreign Language Academies program, Monday afternoon at Jefferson Elementary School, where students were busy learning and improving their knowledge of the language. We asked, “What is your favorite thing about being enrolled in the Armenian-language class?”
“The best part is story time.”
DAVID AKCHARIAN, 8
“I like stories, especially the one about the donkey.”
ANTHONY GHADINI, 7
“I like everything. My instructor is really nice.”
KRISTOPHER CODY AZIZKHANI, 8
“We have this reading book; it’s in Armenian. We read it. I also like the story and the songs.”
LISA GHARIBIAN, 8