The World Language department promotes the learning of world languages as a life skill. The goal of instruction, along with the partnership of other disciplines, is to prepare students as world citizens in a global community. Through age-appropriate instruction from Kindergarten to Grade 12, the program focuses on communication, culture, connection, comparison, and community - within a foundation of effective oral and written communication skills and cultural understanding.
Five world languages are taught - French, Spanish, German, Mandarin, and Italian. We offer Spanish beginning in Pre-Kindergarten and French at selected Lower School grade levels, as well as an after-school program option in beginning Chinese for students in Grades 1 through 5. French, Spanish, and Mandarin are offered in the Middle School, and German and Italian are also offered in the Senior School. The Senior School supports a rigorous curriculum in all five languages, including Advanced Placement in all but Italian. (AP Mandarin is scheduled for inclusion in fall of 2013). Lower School language classes are conducted in a combination of the target language and English, increasing use of the target language as students understand more. Classes in the Middle and Senior Schools are conducted in the target language.
Instructional strategies focus on student-centered and student-guided learning, communication projects, cooperative learning, differentiated instruction, and experiential, hands-on learning.
The Total Physical Response Storytelling (TPRS) method of instruction is used with young children and continues through the Middle School years. The program focuses on the four essential skills of language learning: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Also, the study of people and cultures from around the world is supported by webcam connections to students and teachers at schools in other parts of the world, including the International School of Cluj in Romania. These interactions culminate in the Middle School with a travel opportunity for Grade 7 and 8 students who choose to spend a week in Cluj.
The Middle School World Language program focuses on speaking, listening, reading with understanding, and writing with accuracy in French, Spanish, and Mandarin. Students are required to recognize and understand cultural differences and the global importance of different languages. Students use their developing language capabilities in cross-cultural experiences. They compare and contrast customs and linguistic aspects of target languages and their own native language. They learn to relate information learned in the new language to other subject areas. Finally, they share knowledge in the target language via interdisciplinary projects.
The World Language Department offers a full sequence of beginning to advanced level and Advanced Placement courses in French, German, and Spanish. Mandarin is offered through level IV. Students may also choose from rigorous electives, including advanced topics through French Cinema and Advanced Spanish for Business and Translation. Students have many opportunities to communicate with students in other countries in their target languages, as well as opportunities for international travel. Regular exchanges with Chinese, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Romanian, and Costa Rican schools are offered. (See Global Studies for more information on international travel opportunities).