The study of foreign languages at Oak Hill Academy is an integral facet of a student’s overall development as a learner. Oak Hill believes that English language skills improve greatly when a foreign language is simultaneously introduced. In fact, the learner is forced to think about the structure and role of language in a whole new way. Development of the English language, as well as a foreign language, is then benefited by starting at a very early age.
Studies have shown that a student’s ability to read, write, and do math increases with the study of foreign lang-uages. Analytic and interpretive capacities improve. Creative and divergent thinking is encouraged. Learning several foreign languages creates new opportunities and gives children a perspective that they might not otherwise encounter.
Oak Hill Academy begins its language instruction with French being taught in Grades PreK-4. French is an official language in 33 countries, second only to English. In fact, there are thousands of English words which are derivatives of the French language.
A conversational approach is the basis for the French program in the Lower School. Children learn through games, puppets, literature, and song. An exposure to the French culture is also an important goal of the class.
Spanish is also taught to students in grades K-4 using the Middlebury Interactive Curriculum. Students concentrate on the key areas of language study: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Courses are taught using the computers in the Lower School Tech Center. The use of video, audio, images, and texts allow for a contextualized, interactive, and individualized experience.
The teaching of French and Spanishcontinues in the Upper School. In grades 5-7 students take half year courses in both French and Spanish. Eighth graders can then choose a full year of either French or
Spanish in order to prepare for higher level courses in high school. The conversational approach of instruction is supplemented by a rich study of grammar and culture. Technology provides a valuable tool for developing the auditory component of learning.
Lower School students are learning about Latin and the Roman culture through the “Minimus” series. Minimus is a mouse who lives with a Roman family and introduces children to the Latin language in a very child-friendly way. Basic Latin grammar and vocabulary is taught with an engaging curriculum.
The study of Latin is offered in seventh and eighth grade. The study of Latin in particular has proven itself to aide in the understanding of English vocabulary and grammar. Latin is the key to modern languages, since about 80% of modern Romance languages take their vocabulary from Latin. Historically, Latin students have performed better on standardized tests, including the college SAT.
Oak Hill Academy’s Latin instruction consists of the development of vocabulary and the grammatical structure through translation. Also, the history and culture of the Roman daily life is studied.
After school activities offer more opportunities in foreign language learning. Students in grades 1-8 may participate in Spanish and/or Chinese Club in order to initiate their studies. French Club is offered to grades 1-8. A Roman Classics Club develops an appreciation for Latin culture in grades 6-8.