Fifth and sixth graders are learning Mandarin, in a new foreign language program that has been added to the existing Spanish language course offerings.
At Syringa Mountain School, the new Mandarin language program is being taught by Serena Chin, and is an extension of the charter school’s Waldorf method of education. Practical life skills are emphasized along with the arts. In the early years, typical academics are not as strongly emphasized.
“Waldorf method schools have traditionally included instruction in two languages as part of their unique curriculum,” said Mende Coblentz, the school’s education director. According to Coblenz, Waldorf schools often teach the children two languages that are very different in sound and grammar.
“The idea is that different symbols, tones and syntax will work multiple areas of the brain and increase the capacity to become fluent in a language later in life,” she said. “And that is a key distinction between our language instruction and what you might find in other public schools.”