ALBA PROGRAMME: SPANISH FOR CHILDREN. LINCOLN, ENGLAND, 2003-2006.
The ALBA Early Spanish Learning Programme (Programa ALBA de Aprendizaje Temprano del Español) began in June 2003 in the city of Lincoln in England. It was created and run by Encarna Márquez Molina and financed by Lincoln Christ’s Hospital School (LCHS), a state secondary school which specialises in language teaching.
The programme came about at the request of then-head teacher, David Cox, in an attempt to promote Spanish among children aged 4 to 11. It was part of a campaign to spread and promote languages, such as French, German and Chinese, in pre-schools and primary schools, which was put into practice by LCHS as part of its work as a Language College – a centre that specialises in Foreign Languages.
As a result of its success as a pilot scheme in St Peter in Eastgate Infant School during June and July 2003, the ALBA Programme was implemented in a total of seven state pre-schools and primary schools. These seven schools decided the work being done in Lincoln and the positive results it was achieving should be made public and a government subsidy was requested to allow the project to continue.
The British government granted the subsidy, forming an Early Learning Network with the aforementioned pre-schools and primary schools. The network consisted of a group of state schools, committed to the task of improving early learning through the use of various resources and strategies. In this instance, the subject in question was Spanish as a foreign language.
During the 2003-2004, 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 academic years, seven English state pre-schools and primary schools, St Peter in Eastgate Infant School, Mount Street Infant School, Westgate Junior School, St. Faith’s Infant School, St. Faith and St. Martin’s Junior School, Ermine Infant School and Ermine Junior School, worked with the joint goal of teaching Spanish in their respective centres, applying the ALBA Early Spanish Learning Programme, created and run by Encarna Márquez. More than 850 pupils participated in the programme over the three years in which it ran.
These seven English state schools were pioneers of the incorporation of a foreign language into the curriculum during the first teaching stages.
It is important to note that, at the time in Great Britain, language teaching was not an official part of the pre-school or primary school curriculum and, therefore, the ground-breaking idea was a long way ahead of the educational laws in the country.