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, while promoting cultural awareness and global understanding. Our Language Acquisition curriculum aims to:
- Establish a respect for and understanding of different languages and cultures.
- Provide a linguistic foundation to facilitate further learning and enhanced academic enrichment.
- Increase holistic development by providing an array of lifelong learning skills.
- Reinforce all core subject areas including English language literacy.
- Enhance critical and analytical thinking, creativity, and open-mindedness.
Exposure to foreign 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. The Spanish curriculum is also integrated into the context of the IB Units of Inquiry where students learn relevant words and language skills as they relate to their current subject area of study. All students in Grade Five are introduced to the Language Wheel and participate in one trimester each of 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 Grades Seven and Eight 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 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.