Students are introduced to Spanish and Mandarin, for half the school year each, in Kindergarten. In third grade, they choose one to focus on and continue studying until they graduate. Our program actively engages students as they learn to communicate in another language. Classes are taught primarily in the target language to emphasize the development of oral communication skills, while story creation and other activities develop reading and writing skills. Students also gain an understanding and appreciation of places in which the target languages are spoken.
Our language program plays an important role in developing students' cultural literacy, and we continue to grow the connection between languages and our
multicultural and global education initiatives. Cultural and linguistic skills are developed through activities and resources in- and outside the classroom. Upper Division students have the opportunity each week to practice their Spanish with heritage speakers through a partnership with the Canal Alliance.
Kindergartners listen to stories about the Moon Lady in Mandarin class during the Chinese Moon Festival in October. Language field trips are taken throughout the Bay Area, and Upper Division Spanish students also have the option of going on a study trip to a Spanish-speaking country during spring break.
We have also welcomed three administrators from our Chinese partner school, Beijing Experimental Primary School #2, who have participated in our Mandarin program during their stay, and we have sent four teachers to Beijing since 2007. Plans are developing for student exchanges between our two schools as well.