Our world languages department introduces students to Mandarin and Spanish in the lower school. Middle school students specialize in Mandarin or Spanish and also take Latin in seventh and eighth grade. Second-language learning has wide benefits, including strengthening first-language skills, enhancing problem-solving and reasoning skills, increasing the capacity for creative thinking, and helping to respect and understand other cultures.
All world language classes focus on developing the students’ basic knowledge and understanding of the nature of the language. Initially, classes focus on comprehension, followed by oral communication skills. Over the years, reading and writing exercises are introduced. Total Physical Response, a curricular approach in which students use physical cues to learn, understand, and communicate stories and new vocabulary, is used throughout the grades. Instruction is sequential and developmentally targeted, and typically might include oral exercises, hands-on activities, and other multi-sensory approaches.
Students also are encouraged to appreciate cultural traditions from the countries in which a language is spoken. The school community annually celebrates Lunar New Year and El Día de los Muertos, with student-constructed altars, decorations, and school-wide activities. A variety of other cultural and historical projects are woven into the curriculum throughout the year.
El Día de los Muertos Celebration
Every year our Spanish teachers put together a celebration of El Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. In class, students of all ages design colorful altars to commemorate those in their lives who have passed away. These altars are displayed both in the library, as well as on the lawn at the front of the school. During El Día de los Muertos buddy bears groups visit the altars together, share stories, and learn about the family members who are being celebrated and remembered on each altar. Afterwards, everyone gathers in the courtyard for churros!
Lunar New Year Celebration
Organized by our Mandarin teacher, Vivian, MTS rang in the Year of the Rat in style! The school gathered in the gym, where students learned about The Year of the Rat from fellow classmates, students performed songs in Mandarin, and everyone enjoyed a Lion Dance performance by a local troupe. Afterward, the buddy bears got together and moved through different activity stations, which included writing fortunes, testing their chopstick skills, practicing writing Chinese characters in ink, and tasting homemade dumplings.