Foreign Languages at an Early Age

Foreign language acquisition at an early age is necessary to prepare for the global challenges of the 21st century in Texas, the United States, and the world as well as to develop a global outlook.

As part of our Spanish program, students gain foreign language proficiency through an introduction to common vocabulary, basic grammar, and elementary conversation.  Part of our program also involves reinforcing lessons and concepts not just in English, but also in Spanish, as well as providing card materials in Spanish.  See photos from our Spanish program below.

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For example, in the Montessori classroom, when studying the parts of a tree, students are introduced to the trunk, branches, leaves, and root systems in a tree.  After studying the real trees outside and correctly identifying the parts of the tree, the student uses special card materials to reinforce her learning in English.  Our Spanish program helps students reinforce their learning in Spanish – so students can not only identify the “leaves” of a tree but also translate “leaves” to “hojas” in Spanish.

Our Spanish class starts with a song greeting everyone in class, a review of the date and day of the week, and then an interactive group lesson on various topics, often using technology.

The spirit of Montessori is found in using the senses – touching, smelling, tasting, seeing, and hearing – when learning.   Experiencing an idea is so much more powerful than merely being lectured on it.  Learning a foreign language follows the same principles, especially in our Montessori school.  For example, when learning directions, students recite “izquierda” (left)  and “derecha” (right), while moving in the appropriate direction to reinforce the meaning of the word.  While Dr. Maria Montessori never developed a pedagogy for teaching foreign language, the ideals of her work can often be found when teaching a foreign languages to children.

Another integral part of our Spanish program is an emphasis on culture and Geography.  Knowing the nuances and cultural context of a language is key to mastery.  Students mastered the names and capitals of countries in the Spanish-speaking world.  In Christmas 2010, the Spanish class also participated in a dance, reminiscent of the indigenous peoples in western South America.