Conversation over memorization
With over 41 million Spanish speakers in the United States alone, learning Spanish has become a large part of daily life in our modern world. Many students are motivated to study Spanish in order to travel, to give themselves an edge in the world of business, medicine, or law, or simply to connect with the community around them.
Some students choose to study Chinese to learn about a culture 5,000 years in the making, some students choose Chinese because they know it will be a valuable tool in business and global politics, and some students choose Chinese simply because it is different.
Whatever the reason for second language acquisition, students at The Peak School fall in love with languages in classes that emphasize conversation and cultural understanding over rote memorization.
Foundations of Spanish
Foundations of Spanish has a focus on speaking and listening in order for students to learn how to comfortably express themselves and understand basic communication in the target language. Mostly, students will focus on basic expressions of language, and learn a wide variety of vocabulary that relates to their everyday life and activities. We will also begin to develop writing and reading skills this, and explore the various cultural aspects of the Spanish-speaking world. The best way to learn is to have fun, so the majority of this course is taught through games, puzzles, and collaborative activities!
Intermediate Spanish has a focus on speaking and listening in order for students to learn how to comfortably express themselves and understand basic communication in the target language. Students learn how to express themselves in more complex ways, and add to their existing knowledge of daily life, activities, and the world around them. We also sharpen writing and reading skills this year, and exploring the various cultural aspects of the Spanish-speaking world. As always, we learn mostly through games, puzzles, and collaborative activities, but move towards expressing ourselves with more vocabulary and complexity.
Practical Spanish is designed to take the culmination of vocabulary and grammatical knowledge acquired in both Foundations of Spanish and Intermediate Spanish to create their own ideas and to be able to describe events in multiple time references (past, present, future). Students also begin to hone in on their “cultural skills,” meaning that they will move beyond the idea of basic communication and towards cultural integration. Writing and reading skills continue to be improved upon sharpened in this course, allowing students another method of communication and professionalism.
Advanced Spanish Grammar *
Advanced Spanish Grammar focuses on verbal and written skills so that students can express their opinions, tell stories, and interact in the world as global citizens. There is also a focus on culture and important aspects of the Spanish-speaking cultures, where students can practice and develop their thoughts and ideas to develop grammatical accuracy in all time references and moods. Because the best way to practice and learn a language is to have fun, this course is filled with games, hot-topic debates, and creative problem solving so that every class is an opportunity to express ideas and opinions, as well as hear those of others.
Spanish Language Through Culture *
All language carries culture, which is why one of the best ways to explore Spanish is through exploring the many Spanish-speaking cultures not only around the globe, but in our own backyard. Although every Spanish course at Peak has some cultural component, the goal of this class is to feel comfortable with the food, music, games, dances, celebrations, and cultural stories that make the language come to life. We will explore other aspects such as etiquette, customs, histories, and current events around the globe, as well as exploring what each student’s role is as a global citizen.
Spanish Composition *
While most Spanish courses at Peak place an emphasis on speaking and listening, this course is designed to develop the skill of writing in Spanish in a variety of contexts, both casual and academic. The goal of this class is to explore the nuances of Spanish and to engage with the language using advance critical thinking skills, all the while developing your own voice in creative writing, academic writing, and even everyday communications.
Spanish Seminar *
Though Peak Seniors are not required to study a world language, students with a proven track record in Spanish classes will have the opportunity to take a Senior Spanish Seminar if they wish. This class will offer you the opportunity to have a significant role in designing your own curriculum as well as the possibility of applying what you have learned in your years at Peak to assistant teach in a lower level class, or the possibility of exploring internship opportunities that would improve Spanish communication skills.
Foundations of Chinese
Oftentimes the first steps in learning a language can be the most confusing, but your first Chinese class is designed to make that process fun! This class is built around games that will help you learn how to write your first characters, how to pronounce words using the pinyin system, and how to speak and understand the five tones. With these fundamental skills mastered, you’ll be wondering why you thought Chinese was so difficult and itching to learn more.
Once you learn the fundamentals of how to write and speak Chinese, you can begin to learn Chinese grammar. In a nutshell, this means that you’ll be using the phrases you learned previously to build full sentences. In most cases, you will discover that Chinese sentences are actually much simpler than English sentences! The activities and games that make up this class will put an equal emphasis on reading, writing, speaking, and listening in Chinese.
Learning a language in a classroom has limitations, but this course is designed to allow you to put your Chinese to use. You will learn how to interview someone, how to buy or sell a product, how to give advice, how to ask for directions, and much more. Though this class has more of an emphasis on speaking and listening in Chinese, there will still be plenty of chances to demonstrate your growth in reading and writing.
Advanced Chinese Grammar *
What is the fastest way to expand your knowledge of Chinese? The answer is grammar, plain and simple. Each lesson in this class will focus on a small cluster of related grammar points that, once learned, you will come to know and be able to use through written and conversational practice. Over time, you will begin to recognize the patterns present in most Chinese sentences and will also start to make comparisons with and discoveries about your first language as well.
Chinese Language Through Culture *
Though a focus on grammar is the fastest way to study Chinese, learning Chinese through the medium of Chinese Culture is undoubtedly more meaningful. You will learn about Chinese culture in each and every one of your Chinese classes at Peak, but this class will make culture the central focus. We will examine different Chinese philosophies, the role of family, etiquette, relationships, and using Chinese we will compare and contrast China’s culture with our own.
Chinese Composition *
In almost all of your Chinese classes at Peak, you will spend at least half of your time speaking and listening in the target language. This is the only class that does not follow that rule. Instead, you will spend the year learning how to write Chinese in many different contexts: you will write letters, emails, resumes, stories, wanted ads, news articles, and you’ll even learn how to write text messages in Chinese! The goal will be for you to feel equally competent writing by hand as you do writing with different styles of Chinese keyboards.
Chinese Seminar *
Though Peak Seniors are not required to study a world language, students with a proven track record in Chinese classes will have the opportunity to take a Senior Chinese Seminar if they wish. This class will offer you the opportunity to have a significant role in designing your own curriculum as well as the possibility of applying what you have learned in your years at Peak to assistant teach in a lower level class.
*Students who demonstrate exceptional command of the language in these courses will be encouraged to prepare for and eventually take the HSK, ACTFL Proficiency Tests, or the AP Exam.