MPFS’ foreign language program develops student appreciation for Spanish cultures and competency in comprehending, speaking and writing in Spanish through immersion-based instruction by native-speaking faculty.
Spanish is taught in all grades, PreK-3 through eighth, incorporating contexts that reflect students’ real life interests and experiences at each age.
Students in PreK-3 through second grade receive 60 minutes of Spanish instruction each week. Beginning in third grade, students delve deeper into Spanish, participating in two 45-minute periods per week before ultimately transitioning to daily classes in sixth grade. By the conclusion of eighth grade, students will have completed 1-2 years of high school Spanish coursework. Many graduates place in Spanish 3 in ninth grade.
Instruction includes plenty of visuals and hands-on activities. Concepts are connected so that learning is scaffolded. Within small classes, students have many opportunities to participate and this frequent reinforcement further boosts understanding and retention.
Likewise, instruction is developmentally appropriate: preschoolers learn to count in Spanish as they develop basic number sense in English; first graders simultaneously learn distinct Spanish and English phonemes; fourth graders tackle increasingly challenging vocabulary in Spanish and English; middle school students begin to master conversational Spanish relevant to adolescent interests: “What movies do you like?”, “What is your Instagram username?”, “I like to ski, skateboard and sing.”
A core element throughout the 11-year program is culture. Students learn about the diverse traditions and histories of Spanish and Latin American peoples, explore the geography of Central and South America, emulate the techniques of Hispanic artists, read authentic Latino literature and folktales, and enjoy Hispanic foods. Together with field trips to art museums, performing arts venues and restaurants, as well as alliances with local Spanish-speaking community resources, these experiences help prepare them for citizenship in our increasingly multi-cultural world.
MPFS has long had a culminating trip for its 8th graders centered around Spanish language immersion, cultural studies, and service learning. In the 1990's and early 2000's students traveled to Costa Rica and for a few years to Puerto Rico. Regardless of where our students travel, the trips provide them with unique opportunities to bond with one another before departing for high school, to experience in fun and educational ways places and people both the same and very different from those at home, and to grow in independence, self-reliance and resilience. Without exception, students return from these trips changed.
Last year's 8th graders traveled to Costa Rica on a nine day trip with Education First Tours. Among the sites and activities the students experienced are San Jose, kayaking and hiking in the Arenal region, hiking in the Santa Elena Cloud Forest, meeting with students from Monteverde Friend School, and visits to the Carara Biological Reserve and Manuel Antonio National Park on the Central Coast of Costa Rica.