There are many excellent reasons for children to study languages: exposure to other cultures, appreciation of diversity, knowledge of geography and etymology, understanding of grammar and the structure of language. At the heart of all language is communication. We strive to have the study of communication be an integrated part of the children’s everyday classroom experience.
We know that children’s learning is most meaningful when facts and skills are embedded in larger projects and topics, rather than taught in isolation. Our program is not focused on acquisition of a particular language, but on the appreciation of and respect for all language: written, verbal, and nonverbal. The study of language unfolds in each classroom in a unique way, building upon the children’s and teachers’ interests and ideas.
For example, children in kindergarten learn sign language as part of their daily routines, introducing them to the concept of non-verbal communication. Fourth graders recently studied Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, encountering questions about translation and interpretation as they rewrote the play in modern vernacular. Second and third graders studying Japanese culture learned to write Japanese characters with brush and ink and to say some traditional Japanese words. They also began an ongoing penpal relationship with an elementary school in northwestern Japan. In these and countless other ways, the study of language is integrated into children’s learning experiences at The Children’s School.