At the Gimnasio Femenino, we believe that knowing more than one language is essential to developing an open mind and a flexible way of thinking. Learning a second language is more than learning words and grammatical expressions – rather, it means understanding better other cultures, being more critical to one’s own, and developing abilities of expressing one’s ideas in different ways, depending on the audience.
Since pre-Montessori, our students are immersed in a bilingual setting. In the Unit of Inquiry (which covers topics of Social Studies, Sciences, and English language), their homeroom teachers should use exclusively English; in pre-school this is aided by the presence of a Spanish-speaking assistant in each classroom. Starting in 1st grade, students are ready to face the challenge of studying in English without translation support. Pre-Montessori to 4th grade classes in Mathematics, Music, Arts, and Physical Education are also taught in English.
Throughout Middle School students take most of their content classes in English, thus extending their English vocabulary and ways of expression while learning about social structures, arts techniques, or mathematical operations. In the Diploma Program, History, Global Politics, Music, and Arts, as well as, of course, English Language and Literature, are all offered in English.
In their English Literature classes in Middle and High School, students read both classical (for example, Little Women, The Lord of the Flies, Macbeth) and contemporary literature (Persepolis, The House on Mango Street, Speak, among others) appropriate for their ages. In these classes, they develop analytical and creative thinking, sharpen their written expression, and enhance their oral presentational skills, all the while improving their vocabulary and grammar. Even more, since the readings address contemporary global issues such as gender equality, racism, the dangers of technology, resistance to oppression, our students develop their critical thinking skills and strive to become inquisitive, reflective, and daring members of modern society.