At St. Thomas School, we believe that learning a second language at an early age has many positive effects. Language exposure can enrich and enhance overall cognitive development, open the door to other cultures, help students understand and appreciate people from other countries, and give students a head start in language requirements for future educational opportunities. We believe that depth is more important than breadth and that by focusing on one language - Spanish - over time provides the greatest benefits.
Spanish is taught from 3-Day Preschool through Eighth Grade. Depending on student age, classes meet from 15 minutes to 40 minutes up to three to four times a week. Classes are conducted entirely in Spanish (occasionally, English is used to clarify specific grammatical points or to give specific instructions). This creates an atmosphere of immersion -- the most effective way to teach a new language. Our program emphasizes listening, speaking, and comprehension skills. Through the use of manipulatives, visuals, songs, movements, dialogues, presentations, question/answer activities, and games, students are given the opportunity to acquire basic conversational Spanish, develop core vocabulary, establish essential reading and writing skills, and develop a positive attitude toward different cultures and language learning.
Beginning in Sixth Grade, Spanish classes deepen, allowing for more intense study of a language in which students have already formed a basic foundation. Our intent is for graduates to have the opportunity to be placed in an intermediate level Spanish course in high school, at those schools that allow for higher placement. Of course, such placement depends on individual student’s commitment and capacity to acquire second language skills.