As part of our commitment to creating well-rounded, confident leaders for the next generation and beyond, we consider fluency in more than one language to be of utmost importance. Learning a foreign language is a liberation from insularity and provides an opening to other cultures. High-quality language education should foster a child’s curiosity and deepen their understanding of the world. The teaching should enable children to express their ideas and thoughts in another language and to understand and respond to its speakers, both in speech and in writing. It should also provide opportunities for them to communicate for practical purposes, learn new ways of thinking and read great literature in the original language. Language teaching should provide the foundation for learning further languages, equipping children to study and work in other countries.
The top three languages spoken worldwide by primary and secondary language speakers are Mandarin, English and Spanish. Mandarin Chinese has over one billion speakers worldwide and is the political and cultural language of China. The Spanish language has 466 million speakers worldwide and our location in Texas offers many immersion and cultural opportunities to enhance the Spanish language learning experience. Furthermore, Mandarin, in contrast to Spanish (a Romance language) and English (of Germanic roots and origins), is tonal in its spoken form and its written form is based on characters. This contrast between the three languages offers our children wonderful breadth in their linguistic studies.
The brain’s linguistic function does not discriminate against or between languages. All language acquisition strengthens the brain’s plasticity. The earlier a child begins to tackle a second or third language, the better to support life long retention in addition to overall positive brain function.
We are often asked about immersion. The term “immersion” is used in a variety of ways by different schools which has led to many misunderstandings of the meaning of an immersion program. We are not an immersion school as we do not teach the core content areas such as math and science in the foreign languages. We operate similar to the FLES model. FLES is an acronym that stands for Foreign Language in the Elementary School. It is an approach to language learning that allows children to develop basic communicative skills in a language while reinforcing and enriching content in other disciplines.
Our language classes last from 20-45 minutes per session and are held four times weekly. Our children acquire proficiency in listening and speaking, understanding of and appreciation for other cultures, and age-appropriate proficiency in reading and writing the foreign language. Our Mandarin and Spanish language instruction is linked in content to all subjects taught in the regular classroom (i.e., math, science, history, geography, art and music).