Language offerings are an integral part of the international perspective at The Northwest School. Middle schoolers follow a three-year program of Spanish.
We believe in task-based second language teaching. Students learn the foreign language by doing something with it. Our classes are conducted in Spanish and students are expected to be active in class: listening to a dialogue, reading a text, organizing information, making choices, drawing conclusions, giving advice, interviewing classmates. Just like one learns to play a sport by practicing regularly, students learn to speak Spanish by speaking Spanish and learn to write Spanish by writing Spanish.
Our approach is student-centered and the role of the teacher is that of guide, therefore letting the students take charge of their own learning. Students also discover a lot by themselves and by talking to partners.
Students learn Spanish in a contextualized and meaningful way, always manipulating new structures and new words to fully understand them.
Students do not learn Spanish by being exposed to a word or structure only once. In our classes, learning happens in a spiral: we learn just enough linguistic tools to accomplish a particular task and later build upon this knowledge to progress further and add new layers to that knowledge.
The program follows the basic principles of communicative language teaching and aims at developing the skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing to a basic level of proficiency so that the students can communicate ideas in Spanish. Students meet three times weekly and learn basic grammar and vocabulary of Spanish, while learning about the cultures of Spain and Latin-America. The 6th grade curriculum covers topics such as greetings, introductions, likes and dislikes, school life, telling time, present tense verb conjugations, personal pronouns, gender and number of nouns and adjectives. In addition, a unit of study is specifically dedicated to the geography and basic demographic data of the Spanish-speaking world. The class is taught in Spanish.
The 7th grade series is designed to follow the introduction to Spanish that students began in 6th grade. The 7th grade classes are taught in Spanish. Students meet five times a week and continue their study of basic grammatical, lexical and cultural Spanish material. To develop their oral skills, students learn to understand and produce simple statements as well as to interact with others in simple terms. To develop their written skills, students read and write brief texts and messages.
The 7th grade curriculum includes:
Descriptions of personalities and physical traits, family relationships, preferences, expression of frequency, asking for prices and ordering food, dates, free-time activities, sports, health and feelings. Students also learn how to extend and accept invitations, to describe places and weather, and are introduced to future and past syntactic constructions.
In 8th grade, students continue working on their written and oral proficiencies by practicing all four skills in the target language (reading, writing, speaking and listening). Each unit begins with activities that utilize vocabulary and grammatical structures in specific contexts, ultimately leading to a final meaningful task.
The 8th grade curriculum includes:
Progressive, preterit, imperfect and imperative verb structures, comparing and contrasting past and present events, study of ancient civilizations and modern-day advertisements, cultural topics on Argentina, Madrid, the Mayans and famous artists, scientists and revolutionaries of the Spanish-speaking world.