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Riverbend offers two world languages, including Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. Toddler and Primary classes have Spanish lessons, and Upper School students (grades 1-8) have the choice of Mandarin or Spanish. One of the most important goals of our language programs is to develop a love of learning languages and to begin to appreciate the world from another perspective.

❝One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.❞ 
‒Frank Smith

Mandarin Chinese

Mandarin Chinese students showing their work

In the Mandarin program, students review the phonetic symbols and tones from the very beginning of the year, and continue to improve pronunciation and intonation of Chinese with reinforcement of pinyin practice. Listening and speaking skills are emphasized throughout the dialogues, questions and answers, and group and individual presentation practices. Students further their understanding of the Chinese character formation system. With the progress of learning and memorization of more radicals and simple characters, students will acquire the knowledge of how to analyze most of the compound characters and memorize new characters in a logical way.

Text and workbooks allow students to practice their language skills, and knowledge acquired previously will be reinforced and consolidated with new materials through games, arts and crafts, storytelling, presentations, etc.

Chinese culture is also introduced through the year and, in particular, by learning and celebrating some of the Chinese traditional holidays: Mid- Autumn Festival, Spring Festival, Dragon Boat Festival, etc.


The Spanish program seeks to spark students’ curiosity towards this language. One of the most important characteristics of the curriculum is bringing theory into practice. Students learn Spanish through a hands-on approach that emphasizes practical vocabulary.

The program starts at the Toddler and Primary levels (ages 15 months – 6 years) by incorporating music and concrete materials, which are fundamental elements for teaching and acquiring the Spanish language at this age.

In the Elementary and Middle School programs, students begin to work on topics that allow them to learn vocabulary, grammar rules, develop reading comprehension, writing, and oral expression. They also explore the cultures and histories of the Spanish-speaking world with age-appropriate traditional games, literature, music, cuisine, and art projects.