Dublin School is in the process of transforming world language learning. Often studying language in high school involves grammar drills, quizzes on vocabulary, a little bit of cultural study: while it can be fun and enriching, many students do not develop fluency or a deep understanding of the culture whose language they are studying. We realized that in order to achieve better results, we would need to fundamentally alter the way we teach language. We believe that less "coverage" and more depth produces a more vital learning experiences as a basic principle of teaching, and we applied this to our language offerings themselves. Rather than doing a good job with four languages, we want to do an outstanding job with just one. Focusing on one language means we have a whole department of teachers of Spanish, so we are able to offer more varied approaches and a more far-reaching curriculum, which will include higher-level courses and courses in our regular curriculum taught in Spanish. We believe that the experience of learning one language with excellence will provide an internalized model to facilitate additional language learning as well. Starting this year, all new students are taking Spanish.
Why Spanish? To begin with, Spanish is the second largest language in our nation. Americans who speak Spanish will be more effective citizens. The Hispanic heritage of our nation is rich and important, and we feel a duty to ensure our students interact with this history and are open to people of Hispanic backgrounds. The history of US-Latin American relations is important for North Americans to recognize, understand, and address as well. Vibrant and beautiful cultures and lands within our hemisphere offer great opportunities for learning and exploration and enrichment. Speaking Spanish opens up opportunities for our students on many levels. Closer to home, Dublin has a long history of native Spanish speakers in our community. One of Dublin's earliest and most beloved deans, many students, both international and domestic, and several of our esteemed faculty have been native speakers of Spanish. The ability to better appreciate our native Spanish speakers, their families and communities, is important to us. We are looking forward to incorporating more experiences of Spanish culture and language on campus as well as in the classroom, from tables in the dining hall to foods, films, speakers, and dance to celebrate Hispanic Heritage month in October. In another arena, Spanish is a language that we feel will be accessible to our entire range of learners. Expanding the number of students learning Spanish increases the number of interactions we can create to reinforce and extend proficiency as well. We are proud to have been awarded an E.E. Ford grant to develop this program as a model for other schools.
Creating a dynamic experience of Spanish language and culture, working toward oral proficiency and fluency, extending our curriculum in a variety of directions, developing more opportunities to connect within our existing community, and providing our students tools to be more effective citizens of our nation: these are compelling reasons for our choice. At the same time, students are also able to explore other languages on an individual basis after meeting our requirement in Spanish. We feel that narrowing our choices will enable our students to achieve at a much higher level in language studies - and that is our ultimate aim.
We welcome your thoughts, questions and feedback on our Spanish Program.