Language in Lower School is offered as a resource from Early Learning and Pre-K through fifth grade, so that even the youngest students may begin to obtain initial communicative competence and begin to appreciate the rich cultures of the world. Lower School students on both campuses are offered Spanish through enrichment and resources programming.
On the Beaches Campus, Spanish is available for Pre-K through sixth-grade students and puts an emphasis on a communicative approach. A multi-sensory presentation of the material includes the use of books, puppetry, dramatizations, games, videos, and singing. The Spanish teacher provides supplementary curriculum materials, along with a developed curriculum, for each grade level to help expose students to the Spanish language and culture.
On the St. Mark's Campus, all students, from the Early Learning Program I through sixth grade, receive Spanish instruction. Led by a native speaker, immersion (no English) is used during each class to learn the basics of communicating in Spanish. Students will be able to introduce themselves and family members to people in Spanish speaking countries. They will be able to ask basic personal information questions, such as names, age, favorite color, favorite fruits, family members, and others of interest.
Middle and Upper School
Episcopal offers four languages to Middle and Upper School students: Chinese, French, Latin, and Spanish. Because Munnerlyn campus students are expected to study three levels of a language to meet graduation requirements,* choosing a language to study is an important decision. For this reason, students are exposed to all four languages in the Exploring Languages classes offered in 6th grade so that they can make an informed decision on the language they wish to pursue starting their 7th-grade year. Additionally, students are encouraged to carefully consider their language choice by speaking with an advisor or language instructor. Episcopal requires foreign language to expand students’ world views and to encourage their development of a global perspective. Knowing a foreign language also provides a competitive edge and broadens career opportunities in today’s global economy. In addition, studies have shown that studying a foreign language improves a student's math and verbal scores on the SAT and GRE tests and develops strong cognitive and critical thinking skills. International travel opportunities through Episcopal’s Global Learning Institute are an important part of the school’s language experience.
With more than 955 million native speakers and 200 million non-native speakers -- or 14.4% of the world’s population -- Mandarin Chinese is the most spoken language in the world. Episcopal challenges Chinese language students to learn the vocabulary, the grammar, and the syntax of the language, including the study of the Chinese characters, the role of the Pinyin writing system, and the ability to write Chinese characters. Through different teaching techniques, such as group and partner work, TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling), listening and reading activities, students fully develop their skills in the language. They gain an understanding and appreciation of the world’s oldest continuing culture by studying Chinese philosophy, religion, art, and Chinese cuisine. Students may also have the opportunity to travel to China during the summer time through ESJ’s Global Learning Institute.
French classes challenge Middle and Upper School students through class exercises, Harkness discussions, group and partner work, all in written and spoken French. Students listen and discuss excerpts from primary French sources, such as podcasts, films, and videos. Authentic materials and books are used all the way through the AP level, increasing in difficulty as the students gain more skills.
Students of French have two other experiences available to them -- Congrès and the French Exchange Program. Congrès is a statewide French competition held in Orlando, Florida, each March. ESJ takes a team of students that compete in poem recitations, impromptu speeches, reading tests, plays, skits, and trivia. Every two years students also have the opportunity to participate in the French Exchange Program with Lycée St. Félix-La Salle in Nantes, France. Students travel to Nantes and stay with a host family for two weeks and then spend several days in Paris. The following year ESJ students host Lycée St. Félix-La Salle students in Jacksonville. These exchanges result in lasting friendships that allow students to continue to build their language skills and explore cultural differences.
In Latin class, Middle and Upper School students learn vocabulary, grammar, and the syntax of the language, and apply it through the translation of ancient texts and literary works. Students also explore Roman culture, mythology, history, architecture, and government and its impacts on the modern world through art, literature, modern governments, and legal systems. Latin is the base of all Romance Languages (Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Romanian), providing a strong foundation should a student be interested in later studying a third language.
Further opportunities for study include participation in Latin Forum, where students compete against other area high schools in the following: academic contests (multiple categories and levels); creative projects - models, paintings, drawings, mosaics, maps, sculpture, textiles, games; certamen (Latin quiz bowl); and athletic competitions. Students may also become involved in ESJ’s Latin Club, which celebrates the study of Latin and the culture of Rome. Finally, students of Latin may be inducted in the National Junior Classical League, where students can earn membership on a yearly basis.
Middle and Upper school Spanish language students learn vocabulary, grammatical, and syntactical structures of the language. Through class exercises, such as partner and group work, Harkness discussions, debates, authentic listening and reading materials, the student is exposed to different teaching techniques to continually build on the four language acquisition skills -- reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Additionally, students learn about the culture through exploring cuisine, music, and dance.
Episcopal annually participates in the Florida State Spanish Competition, a statewide competition held in Orlando, Florida. The students compete against other high schools within the state in impromptu speaking, in delamations, and in the presentation of a Spanish play. ESJ’s Spanish Exchange Program, through its Global Learning Institute, provides students every two years with the opportunity to travel to Zaragoza, Spain, and to live with a host family to learn the language and travel around the country. The following year, ESJ students host students from Zaragoza. Participating in the exchange can create friendships that may last a lifetime and continue to provide opportunities for travel and cultural exchange. Another opportunity for students to study abroad is ESJ’s Costa Rica Immersion Program. Students spend two weeks taking language classes, participating in cultural activities as well as volunteering in both Heredia, one of Costa Rica’s most historical cities, and Samara, a small beach town located on Guanacaste’s Pacific coast. Upon completion of this program, students will earn 12 community service credit hours, as well as on Global Studies credit.