World Languages

The Academy believes that competency in a second language is an important life skill. Inspired by the principles of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language (ACTFL), the Academy’s World Language program is built on a number of assumptions outlined in ACTFL standards, which focus on communication in languages other than English, cultures, connections, comparisons, and communities.
World Languages offered: Spanish in Pre-K-12, French in Grades 6-12, Chinese in Grades 6-12, optional after-school Chinese in Grades 1-5, Latin in Grades 6-12, and Italian in Grades 9-12.

[Click on a Grade below to read the description]

List of 13 items.

  • Early Childhood (PK-K)

    Young children learn the sounds, orally and aurally, of the language through songs, stories, and TPTRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling), a method that uses whole language in story form while incorporating age-appropriate vocabulary and grammatical structure. Children learn the language's alphabet, numbers, house-related words, clothing, parts of the body, etc.
  • Grade 1

    Pronunciation and intonation improve through hearing and retelling stories containing idiomatic expressions. The focus is on speaking the language. 
  • Grade 2

    Children begin to learn about cultures and countries and that they are different from their own. They also connect and speak with children in countries around the world through classroom technologies. Most of the instruction is in the target language and taught by fluent faculty members.
  • Grade 3

    Children improve pronunciation and intonation in Spanish. They progress from hearing and retelling stories orally to beginning to read and a write.
  • Grade 4

    Building on the increased proficiency of students in pronunciation, intonation, and culture, students learn to read and write in the target language. Most of the instruction is in the target language and taught by fluent faculty members. Through the use of technology, students communicate face-to-face with students from countries around the world.
  • Grade 5

    Children can participate in simple conversations in the target language, have a broad understanding of a variety of cultures where Spanish is spoken, and continue to build on relationships with students in other countries through web‐based communication.
  • Grade 6

    French, Spanish, Mandarin, and Latin are taught in the Middle School. Students are expected to continue the study of their chosen language from Grades 6 – 8. Students who have had exposure to French or Spanish may continue in that language, or choose to begin Latin or Mandarin in Grade 6.
    Both Grade 6 French and Spanish are the first years of the three‐year sequence in Middle School, which prepares students for French II or French III, or Spanish II or Spanish III in the Senior School. Students with no prior experience in French or Spanish may consider joining our Grade 6 French or Spanish course, provided that they properly prepare during the summer preceding sixth grade. We have a list of suggested summer programs from which these students can select.
    Grade 6 Mandarin is an introductory course in which students learn the basic structure and particular sound system of the Chinese language. Upon completing the three year sequence in Grade 8, students are prepared for Mandarin II in the Senior School.
    Grade 6 Latin is an introductory course in which students learn about the mythology, culture, history, and day‐to‐day life of Romans through the eyes of citizens living in Roman Britain. Students are also exposed to simple Latin sentences, the beginnings of Latin grammar, and basic Latin vocabulary. Upon completing the three year sequence in Grade 8, students are prepared for Latin III in the Senior School.
  • Grade 7

    In the Spanish or French sequences, the focus is on the four primary communication skills: listening (with comprehension), speaking, reading, and writing. In Mandarin, students are expected to be proficient in the use of approximately 170 vocabulary words, basic grammatical structures, and be able to read and write approximately 170 characters. While linguistic aspects of the Chinese language are the primary focus of the class, introduction to the social and cultural background of the language is an important part of the course, as well.
  • Grade 8

    Students complete the three-year sequence in Spanish, French, or Mandarin by the end of Grade 8. Classes are mostly conducted in the target language. Mandarin students make progress toward using Mandarin to exchange information and communicate ideas. The students are expected to be proficient in the use of 300 new characters. Most Mandarin students move on to Mandarin II in Grade 9. French and Spanish students move either to French II/Spanish II or French III/Spanish III in Grade 9, depending on the level of proficiency.
  • Grade 9

    As freshmen, students may continue study of the language they have previously learned or choose a new language. Four levels of French, Spanish, Italian, and Mandarin are offered, as well as a fifth level of Advanced Placement in all but Mandarin. Two levels of Latin are currently offered (Latin returned to SA in the 2012-2013 school year) and our hope is to grow that to four levels as our students progress through the Senior School. Students may also elect to study a second world language in the Senior School.
    The focus in French is the practice of basic language skills through reading non-technical prose, poetry, and songs. Writing skills are enhanced through simple compositions. In Italian, conversation is emphasized, along with an introduction to Italian culture, history, art, and music. All levels of Spanish emphasize more complex grammatical structures and vocabulary, with all classes conducted in Spanish. Mandarin focuses on listening, reading, and writing, as well as on building the vocabulary and sentence patterns in communicative context. Students are expected to participate in classroom conversations, short role plays, and to write guided narratives. The class is conducted in Mandarin.
  • Grade 10

    In Grade 10, all world language classes are conducted in the target language. Students read and write increasingly complex, challenging works from a variety of genres, as well as learn and practice grammatical and syntactical structures. Grammar is continuously reviewed to strengthen language skills.
  • Grade 11

    Most students will complete the three-year world language requirement as juniors, many by taking Advanced Placement French, Spanish or Italian, or other advanced courses such as Francophone Civilization or Spanish and Latin American Cinema. Some students elect a second world language in the junior year as well.
  • Grade 12

    Seniors typically complete their study of world language with an Advanced Placement course in French, Spanish, or Italian, or with an advanced course in the target language. Since the language courses have been taught in the target language for some years, students are expected to converse with some fluency during class discussions.

List of 12 members.

  • Jennifer Brown 

    Middle School Spanish Teacher
    Boston College - B.A.
    Universidad de Salamanca - E.L.E.
  • Marina Buratti 

    Senior School World Language Teacher
    University of Pittsburgh - B.A.
    University of Pittsburgh - M.A.
  • Shan Callaghan 

    Middle School Mandarin Teacher
    Hunan University (China) - B.A.
  • Ken Goleski 

    Senior School Spanish Teacher
    St. Lawrence University - B.A.
    Robert Morris University - M.S.
  • Alison Howells 

    Lower School Spanish Teacher
    Bethel University - B.A.
  • Eva Kidwai 

    Chair, World Language Department; Senior School Spanish Teacher
    University of Rochester - B.A.
    University of Buffalo - M.A.
    University of Florida - A.B.D. Linguistics
  • Mónica Lynn 

    Lower School Spanish Teacher
    Guilford College - B.S.
    University of San Diego - M.B.A.
  • Katherine Schmidt 

    Senior School French Teacher
    Boston University - B.S./B.A./B.A.
    Université de Franche-Comté - maîtrise
  • Pascale Spinelli 

    Middle School Spanish and French Teacher
    The New Sorbonne University - B.A.
    The New Sorbonne University - M.A.
  • Vanessa Villalobos 

    Senior School Spanish Teacher
    West Virginia University - B.A.
    West Virginia University - M.A.
  • Sesame Zamora 

    Senior School Latin Teacher
    Lawrence University - B.A.
    Rutgers University - M.A.
  • Jing Zhou 

    Senior School Mandarin Teacher
    Central South University - B.A.
    Carnegie Mellon University - M.A.

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Sewickley Academy
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Sewickley Academy is a nationally recognized Pittsburgh private school enrolling students in Pre-K through Grade 12 on a single campus.