Second Language Proficiency

At Avenues, our goal is to graduate students who are truly at ease beyond their borders. Second language instruction is integral to achieving this goal. Guided by the most current research on language acquisition and evidence showing the significant social and cognitive benefits of learning a second language, we have created an immersion curriculum designed to educate students who can converse comfortably on subjects ranging from the everyday to the academic, with a focus on global awareness.

In addition to the social and personal benefits of being multilingual, current research shows that second language acquisition is highly beneficial to the development of brain functions and cognitive skills. Our coordinated curriculum in both English and the immersion languages leads to a high level of academic rigor and an opportunity for interdisciplinary learning that is engaging and meaningful.

MORE ON IMMERSION INSTRUCTION

Avenues teachers are extremely well qualified, with extensive training in subject content and, for the language teachers, in second language instruction. English and second language teachers collaborate extensively to create and nurture the social, emotional and academic growth of their students. Teachers share the responsibility for teaching the content and curriculum and communicate with each other regularly about student progress and concerns.

Language teachers use the second language 100 percent of the time for both instructional and procedural interactions, providing sufficient input for consistent incremental assimilation of the language. Through formal and informal assessments, teachers monitor students’ progress and offer opportunities to strengthen their language skills through dynamic and differentiated groupings.

THE BENEFITS OF BILINGUALISM

Knowing multiple languages opens up untold cultural, intellectual and professional pathways through the world. It also literally opens a child’s mind: bilingual education activates and expands parts of the brain untapped by monolingual study. Research shows that learning and speaking more than one language improves the brain’s executive functions—a set of interrelated neural processes that we use in our daily lives to make plans, solve problems and perform other mentally demanding tasks. Bilingual education has been shown to improve the following functions:

  • Ignoring distractions to stay focused
  • Switching attention from one topic or activity to another
  • Holding information in mind
  • Mental flexibility
  • Metalinguistic awareness (the ability to understand how language works)

In other words, becoming bilingual helps you concentrate, multi-task and identify important information while filtering out irrelevant information—foundational skills that are more crucial than ever in the digital age. Bilingual students also enjoy purely academic advantages: studies demonstrate that immersion students achieve as well as, or better than, their non-immersion peers on standardized measures of literacy and numeracy administered in students’ first language.

The benefits of bilingualism aren’t just cognitive. Social and personal advantages include deeper cross-cultural understanding, improved self-esteem and enhanced professional competitiveness. There are also health benefits to knowing a second language well: recent studies have shown that bilingualism may help prevent or delay the onset of dementia and other symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease later in life. While learning a language is a rigorous workout for the brain at any age, when you start with immersion at the age of three, it’s a life-changing workout which comes naturally.

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Avenues students will become proficient in a second language, which is fundamental to being a truly global citizen.

Recent Articles from OPEN, our news and discussion blog

April 18, 2019

A Chinese-Spanish Cabaret

by Jennette Mullaney


Upper Division students performed in both Spanish and Mandarin Chinese for this year’s Cabaret! Although previous years had featured songs in Spanish, this was the first year our Cabaret included Chinese as well.  

April 17, 2019

Design Thinking in 1st Grade

by Anna Stevens, Lower Division Science Teacher


Using the design thinking process—a series of steps to solve a problem—our 1st graders built structures to satisfy the needs of Madagascar hissing cockroaches kept at the school.  

April 12, 2019

Matt Green and the World Before Your Feet: Mindful Travel and Interaction

by Jennette Mullaney


The middle grades at Avenues had the great fortune of hearing from Matt Green, the subject of a new documentary titled The World Before Your Feet.  

April 10, 2019

“Poetry Is That Which Is Worth Translating”: Writing Between Languages at Avenues

by Brady Smith and Narcy Carranza


In 9th and 10th grade HIP (High Intensity Practice) Thinking through Writing, students have been reading and rewriting Spanish and Chinese poems in English.  

April 9, 2019

Lunar New Year in the Early Learning Center

by Evelyn Vivar, Spanish Fellow in the Early Learning Center


Students in the Early Learning Center learned so much about Lunar New Year this winter.  

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