Learning multiple languages at St. Mary’s provides students with many cognitive and practical advantages. As a required component of the IB programme, students have the opportunity to become critical and competent communicators in more than one language. They develop insights into the features, processes and craft of language and concept of culture, and realize that there are diverse ways of living, behaving and viewing the word.
Our Language Acquisition curriculum aims to:
- Develop a respect for, and understanding of, diverse linguistic and cultural heritage
- Develop the student's communication skills necessary for further language learning, and for study, work and leisure in a range of authentic contexts and for a variety of audiences and purposes
- Enable the student to develop an appreciation of a variety of literary and non-literary texts and to develop critical and creative techniques for comprehension and construction of meaning
- Enable the student to recognize and use language as a vehicle of thought, reflection, self-expression and learning in other subjects and as a tool for enhancing literacy
- Offer insight into the cultural characteristics of the communities where the language is spoken
- Encourage an awareness and understanding of the perspectives of people from other cultures, leading to involvement and action in their own and other communities
- Foster curiosity, inquiry and a lifelong interest in, and enjoyment of language learning
Exposure to world languages begins in the Early Education Program (EEP) and continues through the Lower and Middle Schools. Every student in EEP and Lower School is introduced to Spanish. At this stage, students develop receptive and productive language skills while they learn to comprehend and respond to spoken and visual language. All students in Grade 5 are introduced to additional world languages and receive instruction in Mandarin Chinese, French and Spanish. This approach provides students both exposure and experience in order to make an informed decision when selecting their language for their Middle School years.
In Middle School, students select and commit to a language of study for three years. At this stage, students transition from “learning the language” to “learning through and about the language.” They, also, are provided with a variety of contexts to engage and experience these languages in unique and meaningful manners. Special guest presentations, field trips, traditional celebrations and cultural events are just some of the opportunities students have to gain competency in the target language.
In addition, students in the Middle School have the irreplaceable opportunity to participate in one or more of the four language and culture based field studies. The trips to Costa Rica, France and Hong Kong & China, along with the Italian Exchange Program, are designed to further develop our students’ language skills and foster cultural appreciation for these locations. Please refer to the International Field Studies section to learn more about these trips.