In Language Curriculum, Boarding Schools Look Forward, Yet Hold Fast

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College prep boarding schools incorporate new language offerings to adapt to a changing world.

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The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) is the official home of college-prep boarding schools and the definitive guide for students and families.

As the face of global influence changes, so are core language offerings at many prep schools.

According to The Association of Boarding Schools(TABS), over 30% of North American college prep boarding schools - most of which strive toward providing a robust global education - now offer Chinese, and a few are introducing Arabic. Yet despite these changes, few schools are backing away from their historical commitment to romance languages or even the classics. This counters a trend in the public sector where a recent government-financed survey reports that within the last decade, thousands of U.S. schools have trimmed their foreign language offerings.

St. Andrew's-Sewanee School, a coeducational Episcopal boarding and day college preparatory school in Tennessee, added Chinese as a language offering as a response to the rise of Asia - particularly China -in reshaping politics, economics and culture in the twentieth-first century. In addition to gaining conversation skills that they can employ the world over, St. Andrew's-Sewanee students explore the evolution of China's written language and Chinese philosophies.

Choate Rosemary Hall, a coeducational boarding and day school in Connecticut, has offered Chinese as part of its curriculum for 10 years. To build on that focus, three years ago Choate began offering an intensive month-long summer language program--Discover Chinese--federally funded under the 2009 STARTALK project, one of several government initiatives aimed at increasing the number of Americans learning critical need languages such as Arabic and Chinese. Choate also recently reintroduced Arabic to its language curriculum after a 30-year hiatus.

Classic languages haven't lost any footing as strongholds in language curricula among college prep boarding schools. Most prep school educators still see Latin as invaluable for understanding language etymology and improving vocabulary. Nearly 10% of TABS member schools continue to offer Greek, as well.

"We offer Latin as a building block for Romance languages and language learning, as well as a way to improve English vocabulary. We believe Mandarin Chinese will be an important part of the 21st century world, and we are giving our students a skill that will help them succeed in what could be the 'Asian' century," explains Foxcroft School's Academic Dean, Alexander O. Northrup. Foxcroft is a boarding and day school for girls in Middleburg Virginia.

Students being offered a robust array of language courses during the secondary schooling years can hope to gain both a foothold of the present and future, and a firm grasp of foundations. College prep boarding schools provide this and other rich curriculum benefits not always available in traditional schooling options.

To learn more about these and other boarding schools, and the global education with which these schools prepare students for college and for life, visit

About TABS

The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) is the official home of college-prep boarding schools and the definitive guide for students and families. The Asheville NC based not-for-profit organization serves roughly 300 member schools across the United States, Canada, and abroad. Visit for more information.


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