Our foreign language program includes two languages, Spanish and Mandarin, and develops throughout twelve years of studies.
Each language arises out of a different human experience. The exposure to two contrasting languages such as Spanish and Mandarin at an early age balances the one‐sidedness of the mother tongue—not only shaping the child’s constitution through breathing but also developing flexibility in the child’s thinking and feeling. At the level of moral education, the exposure to two languages cultivates tolerance and openness to other cultures while helping the student become more globally attuned.
In grades one, two, and three, the experience of foreign languages is completely oral. At this time, Waldorf education offers a natural, oral method of language learning. Through songs, poems, rhymes, games, gesture, pantomime, and drama, children receive a whole language experience. They learn words, phrases, idiomatic expressions, and proverbs that intimately link their being with the world, and, by their innate imitative ability, children learn to name their surroundings and the activities of their daily life.
Fourth and fifth grade is a time of transition towards our middle‐school program. In these two years, the oral learning of the language is enhanced, and writing, reading, grammar and cultural topics are introduced through stories and presentations.
During the middle‐school years, the learning and studying of a foreign language begins to nurture the intellectual capacities that are unfolding in the child. The foreign language is no longer primarily a living experience of the senses but slowly becomes a skills class that requires consistency, practice, and analytic thinking for its success. During these years, children learn proper uses of grammar, syntax, and daily oral expression. They also receive a dynamic introduction to the social studies of the culture from which the language comes.