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

August 14, 2019

See the Winning Photos from the 2019 Global Journeys Fifth Term Photo Contest

by Morgan Baum, Global Journeys


Global Journeys offers several programs students can take during Fifth Term, and in 2019, students participated in programs to China, Ecuador, Guatemala, Brazil and Hawaii.   

August 8, 2019

Learning about Financial Literacy in Chinese Class

by Ting Wang, Middle Grades Chinese Teacher


The 7th grade Wu Ji Xian class completed another project in their target language—a financial literacy project named “ru guo wo you yi bai wan,” or, “if I had one million dollars.”  

July 30, 2019

Show and Tell in Mandarin Chinese

by LiMei Ye, 1st Grade Teacher


We discovered an even better way to encourage students to speak more in Chinese—by holding a "show and tell" in the target language.  

July 25, 2019

Kindergarteners Learn about Central American Culture

by Meagan Gutierrez, Kindergarten Teacher


This past spring, the kindergarten’s Owls and Toucans learned about their teachers' different cultures in the target language. We took time to talk about the mountainous terrain which yields various types of exotic fruit in Honduras and also touched on the volcanos surrounded by lakes in Nicaragua.  

July 18, 2019

Dancing a Poem with the Avenues Dance Club

by Dina Gray, Dance and Movement Teacher


This year I had the opportunity to work with my 6th grade dance club to create a piece for the Avenues spring dance concert. We decided to use the Maya Angelou’s poem “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me at All” as a jumping-off point.  

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