Our Philosophy of Language Instruction
Our World Language Program is a fluency-based curriculum designed to develop communication skills and cultural awareness. All students take French, including our youngest children in the Stepping Stones program (ages 2 years eight months to 3 years old). In the middle school, students also take Latin to build a foundation for the roots of many languages. One key Montessori tenet is teaching “practical life” skills at school, and by devoting our world language program to one language, we broadened these experiences.
Students not only have instructional time with one of our two French teachers, they also have the opportunity to use their burgeoning French skills throughout the day, such as when arriving in the morning and or being served lunch. Our goal is to use a natural approach to acquire a new language. Our Montessori environment allows us to work in small groups, to adapt and challenge our students’ abilities, in a classroom format or independently. Therefore, each student has the opportunity to practice French every day. At all levels, teachers conduct the class 90 percent of the target language, and all students are encouraged to speak solely in that language.
From a young age, students learn French by interacting with the teacher in the target language, starting with basic conversations. Through songs or read-alouds, they develop an ear for a new language; as a result, they discover and acquire vocabulary and sentence structure without knowing it. Students are engaged at all times by playing games or enjoying movement activities always in the target language. By the end of Children’s House, students will be able to understand basic commands and vocabulary, interact in simple conversations, and express themselves with respect and courtesy in French.
Starting in first grade, students will develop their comprehension of the target language through diverse activities. Our routines and games will allow them to internalize new vocabulary without realizing it. Progressively, they will be able to express themselves naturally during morning meetings, practical life situations, or social interactions. Teachers will develop engaging activities based on their interests, using repetition, energy, personalization, and creativity. Students will also work independently on Montessori materials to reinforce their French knowledge. Parallel to what is taught in other subjects, they will discover the French-speaking world by learning the geography and the main celebrations of different cultures.
In fourth and fifth grade, students will continue their journey through more challenging and authentic resources such as French-speaking music or videos. Grammar and conjugation aspects will be explained in order to support the understanding and the mastery of the language so students can create their own speech more and more independently. They will be able to speak about themselves or someone else in order to communicate with ease with any French speakers. They will compare their life to other children’s routines around the world to develop their citizenship awareness. They will also have fun enacting some practical situations related to any daily life, like ordering food or shopping for clothes.
Based on their maturity and knowledge of French, students will be able to access adapted and comprehensive inputs. Music and videos will encourage them to learn more vocabulary and discover some cultural aspects. Newspapers’ articles written for French speakers will challenge our students to understand the news from different points of view. They will feel comfortable to connect with other French speakers and create bonds. As a result, students will acquire vocabulary, grammar, and a technical understanding of the language in context. A classroom environment that encourages risk-taking instills in students a passion for language learning, outfitting them with the tools to become compassionate global citizens.