The world languages department introduces students to several different languages over the course of their years at MTS. Second-language learning has wide benefits including strengthening first-language skills, enhancing problem-solving and reasoning skills, increasing the capacity for creative thinking, and fostering the ability to respect and understand other cultures. Studying world languages also gives students motivation to pursue learning outside the classroom.
Starting in kindergarten all students take Spanish and Mandarin almost daily and continue with both languages through fifth grade. Latin is introduced in sixth grade and continues on through the eighth grade. 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, and are complemented over the years by gradually introduced reading and writing exercises. 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 and characteristics of other 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 cultural and historical projects are woven into the curriculum throughout the year.