Some of my non-English-speaking clients are immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries. I do not use a translator; because I am fluent in Spanish, I feel that speaking directly to these clients creates a more personal and trusting relationship. ~ Ben, Class of 1993
The Philadelphia School has had a long-standing commitment to teaching Spanish to all of our students from preschool through eighth grade.
Why study Spanish?
We teach Spanish because of its importance as the second most commonly spoken language in the United States. Early-start foreign language study is shown to improve overall cognitive skills and academic performance. Equally as important, foreign language acquisition broadens a student’s global outlook. By opening doors to other cultures, language study helps young children develop respect for people who speak languages and practice customs other than their own.
Immersive experiences and real-life situations foster language mastery. Our Spanish program uses a variety of developmentally appropriate methods, including Total Physical Response – a language learning tool based on the coordination of speech and action. Spanish is integrated throughout the preschool and kindergarten programs, while students in first through eighth grade attend Spanish class two to four times a week.
Our youngest students learn Spanish greetings, songs, and stories and experience cultural celebrations through extended listening, active play, and hands-on activities. The preschool through third grade Spanish program focuses on creating a strong oral base.
Fourth and fifth graders broaden their vocabulary and comprehension through reading, writing, and conversation. They begin to study grammar more formally, including regular verb conjugations and some irregular verbs in the present tense.
In Middle School, students begin to use more complex sentence structure and to incorporate more learned vocabulary and grammar. They learn about the social, political, and economic situations in Latin American countries and about the diversity of cultures among Spanish-speaking people. Middle Schoolers attend Spanish class four days a week. Each March the eighth grade travels to a Spanish-speaking nation or Puerto Rico, where they attend classes at a local school, as well as visit historic sites. In 2017 the eighth grade went to Cuba.
Spanish and Our Alumni
Most of our students continue to study Spanish in high school, generally entering Spanish II or III. Many major in Spanish language and studies in college. In a recent survey, more than 60 percent of our alumni reported that they use Spanish in their academic and professional lives.