Classwork & Curriculum

Classwork & Curriculum FAQs

Find answers to frequently asked questions about the curriculum at the Academy.

How is class placement determined?

Students will be sent instructions beginning in January on STAMP testing. Students will take the test online before the start of the Academy to assess their reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills and determine their class placement level. There are four class levels which are based on the proficiency guidelines set forth by the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Placement is based solely on language skill, so it is possible for a student on the younger side side of the accepted age range to be placed in an advanced class and a child on the older side to be placed in a beginner class.

Will it be a problem if I haven’t previously studied the dialect spoken abroad?

Not at all. Generally, students at both the U.S. immersion and study abroad sites will be exposed to and become familiarized with a variety of dialects within a language in order to enable them to communicate effectively with a broad group of speakers.

How big is the average class?

Each class will generally have between 8–15 students. We hire teachers based on our enrollment number to maintain a 12:1 average student to teacher ratio and ensure a more personalized approach to education.

How are classes structured?

Our curriculum is designed to accommodate a wide range of language proficiency, from absolute beginners with no prior language exposure to heritage speakers. There are no textbooks, no vocabulary lists, no grammar tables written on a board, or rules to be memorized. Instead, we teach language in the context of authentic cultural materials using project-based, experiential learning to incorporate grammar with lessons in history, art, cooking, and contemporary issues. The curriculum emphasizes all four language skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking by using weekly can-do statements to structuralize themes.

Can students select their own electives?

All students will learn from a curriculum that is predetermined by Academy instructors. However, students can request which cultural exploration classes they would like to do during the afternoon. Staff will do their best to accommodate student requests, but placement in their requested classes is not guaranteed. These activities, in addition to providing a variety of options for cultural engagement, facilitate peer-to-peer learning because they are comprised of a range of skill levels. We believe that the informal, peer-to-peer interactions of the cultural exploration activities are just as important as classroom instruction.

Is there homework?

There may be some homework, but it will take students no more than 15–20 minutes. Additionally, homework will be completed at a scheduled time, which does not infringe on afternoon activities or student free time.

How will the students learn grammar without tests and quizzes?

Grammatical principles are explained in the classroom with reference books and authentic materials. These rules are then placed in context through real-life communications and 24/7 immersion. In fact, much of the language acquisition takes place outside of the classroom: at meal times, during field trips and in the dorms. Throughout the program, students will demonstrate their grasp of the language through performances and public speaking opportunities.

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