The Foreign Language Department offers a dynamic program in French and Spanish in grades K-5.
The ultimate goals of the Foreign Language Department, as stated below, strongly reflect Lake Ridge Academy’s Mission Statement: “[To] send into a changing world confident young people of integrity who think critically and creatively, while embracing the joy of lifelong learning.” The department adheres to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages’ (ACTFL) five goals in their National Standards for Foreign Language Education: Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities. Furthermore, the Department has collaborated to create additional outcome-based curriculum standards of achievement.
It is widely accepted that the study of foreign languages promotes international peace, human understanding, and business opportunity. However, the advantages to be derived from learning a second language go far beyond this.
Research has shown that students exposed to a second language perform far better with their work in English than those who have not had such an opportunity. Exposure to a foreign language tends to broaden vocabulary and it advances reading and analytical skills in one’s primary language. In addition, foreign language study improves memory, logical reasoning, self-discipline, and it enhances verbal and problem-solving skills. Students can also gain greater insight into their own society and themselves by learning about foreign cultures. Furthermore, the in-depth study of a foreign language fosters various aspects of creativity.
The Department sincerely believes that the study of a foreign language allows one to see and experience the world in a new way, and that it enriches and adds breadth to one’s life. Having benefited from exposure to other languages within and outside the classroom, students will emerge as more enlightened citizens, comfortable and prepared, as they enter a globalized society.
It is with this vision in mind that the Department has developed a series of courses, programs, and special events in which all students participate.
The Department works to ensure that students:
- acquire the four language skills - listening, speaking, reading, and writing - at various levels of proficiency (Communication)
- develop the ability to communicate with people of other cultures in the target language (Connections)
- have the opportunity for direct contact with native speakers and the target language, so that they appreciate the contribution that these cultures have made to history, the arts, literature, and their established institutions. By traveling to other countries, students practice their language skills, develop confidence in their abilities, and engage in a model of lifelong learning (Cultures and Communities)
- acquire a better understanding of the English language and the U.S. culture through comparisons with other languages and cultures (Comparisons)
- are curious, imaginative, and motivated to continue the study of languages beyond high school to full proficiency (Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities)
In the Lower School, instruction begins in Kindergarten and continues through fifth grade. In Kindergarten through second grade, students study both French and Spanish on alternating days. In third grade, they can decide which language to continue to study throughout the Lower School. The entire Lower School experience is based on a communicative approach. As students progress through the grade levels, they become increasingly more accountable for their language learning. All four areas of language development (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) are taught and reinforced. As students advance, more emphasis is placed on developing skills in reading and writing.