Spanish is integrated throughout everyday life at Manhattan Country School. In order to give students many opportunities to use the language, Spanish is woven into cross-curricular units, featured in creative displays in all classrooms and used to communicate daily with bilingual staff. Given this experience of real-life applications of the language, students are encouraged to communicate in Spanish outside of the classroom. Spanish lessons at MCS intertwine the structure of the language with the cultures of Spanish-speaking people. Students learn to be culturally sensitive by studying different Spanish-speaking countries and exploring the identities of Spanish speakers in their community.
In the Lower School, students explore culture and language in New York City, as well as Latin American countries. The 9-10s have a study unit on the culture and history of Chile and create traditional Chilean arpilleras. The arpillera quilt project gives students the opportunity to express changes they would like to make in the world. Once a year, the Lower School gathers in a tertulia to share Spanish poems, songs and projects.
In the Upper School, students are formally introduced to grammar and verb conjugation. They develop their speaking, listening, and writing skills through interviews, plays, presentations, essays, journals, poetry, and films. Each Upper School grade focuses on the exploration of identity and culture through a different lens: family, country or politics. Current events and activism provide rich opportunities for discussion. Graduates generally place in the intermediate level in high school.
Native Spanish speakers in the Lower and Upper Schools are included in Spanish class activities, and teachers think carefully about how to help students advance their grammar and speaking skills. Students are sometimes given separate assignments to extend their knowledge of the language, including additional readings and opportunities to explore what it is to be multilingual and multicultural.