The Foreign Language Department offers a dynamic program in French and Spanish in grades 9-12. In addition, we also offer an introductory language and culture course in Japanese. Opportunities to learn Latin and Mandarin Chinese are also available to students.
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 addition, in the Middle School and the Upper School, the Foreign Language Department adheres to these outcome-based curriculum standards in our classes which assure that students are able to:
- Effectively comprehend meaning from oral communication of increasing complexity.
- Effectively comprehend meaning from written text of increasing complexity.
- Engage in oral communication of increasing complexity.
- Create original written work of increasing complexity.
- Demonstrate cultural awareness by showing knowledge of the target language cultures.
For students advancing from Lake Ridge Academy’s Middle School to the Upper School, the Foreign Language Department strongly encourages them to continue their study of the same language (French or Spanish) which enables them to achieve a practical level of proficiency and to communicate efficiently. Foreign language graduation requirements can be fulfilled in the following ways: 1) continue the study of the same language for two more years, through Level 4, 2) continue the study of the same language for one year, through Level 3, then choose a new language of study (French, Spanish, Japanese, Latin, or Mandarin Chinese) for one year, or 3) choose a new language of study (French or Spanish) for two consecutive years.
For students new to Lake Ridge Academy in the Upper School, foreign language graduation requirements can be fulfilled in the following ways: 1) study the same language (French or Spanish) for three years, or 2) study two consecutive years of the same language and then choose a new language (French or Spanish) for the third year.
Highly qualified Upper School students also have the unique opportunity to enroll in honors-option coursework in French or Spanish (Levels 2 through 5) where they are expected to complete additional class work and assignments throughout the school year. Honors students have the opportunity to advance beyond the fourth level to the Advanced Placement level.
The Department strongly encourages all students to go beyond the minimum requirements and to study foreign language through the twelfth grade.
In the Upper School, the department works in collaboration with our Center for Global Citizenship’s Global Voyages program. The Global Voyages program alternates international trips every other school year. Through this program, students will have the opportunity to travel to international destinations.