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

February 14, 2019

Writing Persuasive Letters in Chinese

by Ting Wang, Upper Division Chinese Teacher


The 7th grade Mandarin Chinese class moved on to complete a new project, called “给校长的建议信,” or ”writing persuasive letters about school issues to the head of school.”  

February 12, 2019

Incorporating Snow into a Lesson

by Meagan Gutierrez, Kindergarten Teacher


What do you do with a classroom full of kindergarteners when it snows? 

February 8, 2019

A Memorial Project for a Controversial Figure

by Ron Widelec, Upper Division History Teacher


The 11th grade U.S. history classes were tasked with breaking into small groups and designing a memorial for Andrew Jackson that somehow took into account the complex nature of his presidency.  

February 7, 2019

A Campsite for City Kids

by Alexandra Gerba, Pre-kindergarten Teacher


The pre-K Penguins and Seals decided to turn our uninspiring dramatic play corner into a full working campsite – a close getaway that would feel quiet and cozy.  

February 6, 2019

Totally 80s Chorus Concert

by Neil Ginsberg, Upper Division Vocal Music Teacher


This winter, the 7th and 8th graders of Avenues presented their "Totally 80s" chorus concert. These 21st-century students explored the history, fashion and culture of the late 20th century through the lens of 1980s music.  

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