Learning lifelong language skills
The study of world languages at Breck begins with our earliest learners and progresses through graduation. As the first school in the state of Minnesota to offer Chinese instruction beginning in preschool, our World Language curriculum is known for its extensive course offerings, international travel, and in-depth instruction. Our students are learning more than a language; they are learning an appreciation of the world around them.
As a department, we are educators who either hail from different countries and cultures or who have spent extensive time living in and learning about different countries, languages and cultures. We are curious about the world and invested in sharing that curiosity with students. We teach languages because it not only opens doors to other cultures and experiences but it also sets the stage for students to have deep and meaningful opportunities in both their personal and professional lives after their education at Breck is completed.
The World Languages Department sees the world as a rich landscape to be discovered, where our classrooms become a platform for students of all levels, including native speakers, heritage speakers, and students from immersion backgrounds, to develop not only their language skills but also their intercultural competencies. These objectives entail that our teachers follow research-informed practices in language acquisition, develop meaningful and practical curricula, and create or select authentic material that enhances students’ curiosity in discovering our world.
Ultimately, our mission is that students who go through our World Language program will learn more than a language; they will also learn how to take risks, develop empathy, see the value in other people’s perspectives, and navigate our global societies as independent and lifelong learners.
My time in the French language department was one of my most positive experiences at Breck. When I first started Breck, there were no options for students like myself who were lucky enough to attend a language immersive elementary school or who had a parent speak the language at home. Breck changed this by creating an immersion language and culture class for students like me. Not only did this class give me the chance to improve my French language and grammar skills with a teacher from France, but it went beyond simply learning French to learning in French; we studied French history, culture, and government all in a foreign language. It was an incredible opportunity to have this type of class available at the high school level and it more than prepared me for college!Maggie Johnston '18, Dartmouth '22
Breck's World Languages department offers entry-level programs all the way through expanded opportunities to improve language fluency, guided grammar and vocabulary expansion embedded in the curriculum, increased sophistication of communication and writing, and global perspective development.
The world languages curriculum promotes the development of the effective use of a second language including confidence in speaking, reading, writing, and listening. Cultural competencies are developed as students learn and experience the richness of Chinese and Spanish speaking regions of the world. Students in preschool, kindergarten, grade one and grade two spend most of their language class time engaged in speaking and listening as they dance, sing, and listen to the language and engage in conversation with their teachers. Third- and fourth-grade students experience the language in conversation and written form.
Language Choice beginning in the 2020-2021 School year
Beginning in the 2020-2021 school year, Preschool and Kindergarten students will have the option to choose either Spanish or Chinese to study through the duration of their Lower School experience. Lower School students currently in grades 1-4 are continuing with their language tracks of either Spanish or Chinese. Please check in with the Admissions office for more information about language in these grades.
Middle School Students have the opportunity to continue their language study from Lower School or choose a new language offering. Middle School students may choose from French, Spanish, or Chinese. Students coming from an immersion school or are heritage speakers may be interested in testing into Breck's Heritage and Immersion Speakers Language tracks.
Upper school students will complete six semester credits in the same language in order to graduate. Courses are offered in Chinese, French and Spanish. Students in the Upper School World Languages classrooms will experience culture and language through authentic text and materials that will challenge their perspective onto our global world. Students in the 11th and 12th grades will have the opportunity to travel abroad and apply the skills they have learned in their classes in a real-world setting. Students who have an immersion background or who are native or heritage speakers will have the opportunity to test into the Breck's Heritage and Immersion Speakers Language two-year course.
In order to provide exceptional and advanced instruction for students coming from an immersion background or who are heritage speakers in a language, Breck offers unique classes tailored to their ability and level. These courses begin in Middle School and are mixed-grade language classes taught entirely in the target language to build on the strengths students already possess as fluent speakers. Classes continue in the Upper School on a two-year rotating curriculum that aims to solidify students' language skills and curricular knowledge. The program objective is to improve students’ language skills (writing, reading, speaking, listening) by expanding their vocabulary and by deepening their understanding of grammatical structures. The program is built around content-based themes, and incorporates authentic materials produced by native authors to broaden the cultural perspectives of the language learners. Students will be able to collaborate on projects with other students at their fluency levels, focusing on the development of literacy, communicative, and problem-solving skills.
Breck international trips provide opportunities for our students in grades 11-12 to travel abroad to appreciate and immerse themselves in the languages and cultures they’ve been studying as well as to serve overseas local communities.
Trip locations vary each year. Past trips include China, Colombia, France, Morocco, Panama, and Spain.