Foreign Languages

After several years of having a popular after-school program, in 2007 Saint John School made Spanish classes available to all of the students from preschool to middle school. Spanish was a natural choice for our school partly because of the many connections to Latin-American traditions that are already part of the Saint John parish.

Our Spanish teacher is Claudia Olea, who is a native speaker from Chile. Her approach is to immerse the children in the language through games, stories, music, art projects and other activities.

For preschool through third grade…

…some of the themes for the semester have been the family, farm animals, transportation and zoo animals. Students may practice numbers by counting elephants in the song “Los elefantes,” read the story Siesta, look at the colors of a blanket used for a nap, and play “Simón dice” to practice body parts.

In fourth and fifth grades…

…Señora Olea introduces a new country each semester, and students receive a passport to record all their virtual travels. By putting Spanish in the context of the countries in which it is spoken, students learn real-world connections that make the language come alive. When students study Spain, they learn about Picasso and Miró. When they go back in time to ancient México, they trade in an Aztec market. In Costa Rica, they research birds of the rainforest.

In sixth, seventh and eighth grades…

…the students use a textbook to advance their knowledge of Spanish grammar and vocabulary. This includes practicing regular verbs in the present tense, and continuing with irregular verbs and other tenses. Middle schoolers use their improved skills to continue to learn to communicate and explore cultural connections. They write autobiographies, create travel posters, and listen to Spanish pop music.

Additional Languages

Through special lectures from experienced foreign language teachers, middle school students are also introduced to some of the other languages that are taught at the local public high schools: Mandarin Chinese, French, German and Latin.

Saint John students are prepared to excel in their chosen foreign language in high school and beyond.

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