Princeton Friends School is committed to educating its students for global citizenship, and world language study is integral to that mission. Studying the language and culture of other countries gives PFS students a broad understanding, appreciation, and acceptance of the world and of the differences that exist among peoples and nations. Early exposure to world languages, combined with ongoing and explicit opportunities for students to experience the rich ethnic and cultural diversity of our immediate school community, encourages them to engage with the world in powerful ways. Since the early years of our school, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish have been the two languages offered, starting in pre-kindergarten.
For our older students, we recognize that practice is key. In 3rd grade, students meet twice a week for either one or both languages. In 4th grade, students are asked to choose between Chinese and Spanish for further study, at which point classes begin meeting three times a week. In 6th through 8th grades, classes meet four times a week.
Throughout the grades, language instruction is enriched by activities that facilitate cultural awareness – whether observing specific holidays (the Day of the Dead or the Chinese Autumn Festival, for example), cooking or feasting on traditional foods, hearing folktales, or observing or practicing traditional dance or crafts. The Chinese and Spanish language programs are showcased within the school community on two occasions – Chinese New Year and the Mexican Cinco de Mayo – when students exhibit their language proficiency through recitations, skits, and other performances. These celebrations also include buffet lunches and (periodically) exhibitions of traditional folk arts.