McGillis students choose between Spanish and Hebrew.
Lower School Spanish
The Lower School Spanish program emphasizes learning through listening, reading, songs, stories, and interactive games and activities. When appropriate, learning focuses on the themes and concepts of the grade level core curriculum. Spanish learning begins with identifying and using sounds, sound-letter correspondence, and sound patterns. By the end of fifth grade, Spanish students use basic phrases to communicate, recognize and use cognates, and have an expanding vocabulary of verbs (in the present tense). Learning spans beyond the speaking, reading, and writing of Spanish to include a study of different cultures in order to gain a greater sense of, and appreciation for, one’s own culture and the cultures of others. Early exposure to a Romance language, such as Spanish, is a useful basis for studies in other languages (French, Portuguese, Latin, or Italian).
Lower School Hebrew
The Lower School Hebrew program is based upon a philosophy of learning a foreign language in a way that is inspiring and fun, and with interesting tasks that keep students engaged. Language content is practiced through repetition, music and song, active dance movements, dramatic play, and body gestures. The goal is to teach students in a way that is meaningful in order to gain self-confidence in speaking and reading Hebrew. Values of Hebrew heritage can be communicated through music; such activities serve to provide a culturally rich experience for students. The program begins in Kindergarten with a free learning environment focusing on letter recognition and letter sounds. The curriculum in grades 1-5 is based on reading and writing, as well as basic short conversation using proper grammar and sentence structure.
Middle School Spanish
The Middle School Spanish program has a Latin American focus, mixed with significant references to Iberian Spanish, and is a highly interactive learning experience with an emphasis on conversational skills. Units of study are designed to provide relevant contexts in which students might find Spanish useful in their real lives. Along with speaking, listening, reading and writing, students study Latin American culture and history, adding perspective to their Spanish language study. The curriculum uses the “Natural Approach” to language acquisition, which mimics an infant’s natural language acquisition process while also using students’ first language to their advantage. Spanish instruction is highly differentiated, accessible, and challenging to Spanish learners of all experience levels. The Spanish program offers two levels of pacing with one group moving at a more rapid pace.
Middle School Hebrew
The purpose of the Middle School Hebrew program is to convey comprehension and appreciation of the Hebrew language and culture while garnering the skills necessary for foreign language acquisition. The emphasis of instruction is on Modern Hebrew. Reading, grammar, verbal comprehension, speaking and translations combine with synthesis and broader comprehension of culture as the foci of instruction. Students are introduced to a variety of Hebrew literature ranging from antiquity to modernity. Studying Hebrew, students have a unique opportunity to connect to a linguistic system much different from their native language and acquire the skills to become lifelong linguists.