At Abintra, Spanish in the Lower School classrooms is experienced through the Total Physical Response method, which is a perfect match for Montessori classrooms. It uses all of the senses to assist in the acquisition of language, which can be greatly accelerated through the use of kinesthetic behavior (body movement). This strategy is based on the model of how children acquire their first languages.
Research shows that when children are exposed to a second language before this early developmental window closes, they enhance their verbal and mathematical problem-solving skills and acquire advantages in concept formation. These skills contribute profoundly to a child’s self-esteem and his or her sense of value. This also prepares the child for life in the multicultural, multilingual world of the 21st century.
In our Upper School classrooms, Spanish as a second language continues to be part of the curriculum. At this level, TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling) is used to teach abstract vocabulary that cannot be covered through TPR alone. This method begins with a short story co-created by the guide and the students, and the story is constructed around the repetition of new phrases. A descriptive name for the process would be “storyasking,” because the guide is constantly asking the story into existence. It shifts students from simple responses to answering questions that require higher-level thinking skills involving imagining, creating, and personalizing the story. This results in more unconscious acquisition and thus more rapid fluency.
It is our goal at Abintra to provide our children with positive exposure to a language that has influence in our community artistically, historically, and culturally.