Valley schools giving students a world view
The Arizona Republic
Apr. 4, 2005
Parents' push for multilingual classes is creating a demand
for elementary and high schools with an international flavor.
Valley schools that fit the bill include:
• Friendly House's Academia del Pueblo, a K-8 public charter school in Phoenix
with an English-Spanish focus.
• The International School of Arizona, a private pre-K-5
school in Scottsdale with French and Spanish training.
• SABIS International, a K-11 private school in Phoenix where students focus on
English, math and world languages.
• Central High School's International Studies Program, where students are
required to take four years of a foreign language and international-themed
"More parents are beginning to understand that being bilingual or even
multilingual is becoming more of a necessity," said Michelle Borie, school
administrator of the International School of Arizona. "We live in a global
economy and youngsters need to be trained that way to compete later on in life."
Gilbert parent Andrea Parker-Swenson agrees. Her daughters Cassandra, 6, and
Olivia, 3, attend the International School of Arizona. Cassandra, who's fluent
in French and recently started learning Spanish, is already inquiring about
other languages to learn.
"We could be sending her to public school for free," said Parker-Swenson, who
has a master's degree in education. "But we see this as an investment in her
Studies show that foreign-language skills increase employment opportunities and
workers' overall earning potential.
"That's why Europeans have a leg up on us and their kids speak three or four
languages," Parker-Swenson said. "We have it backwards and teach our kids
foreign languages in high school, which is way too late for them to really
master them."Still, some high schools are jumping into the fray and increasing
For example, the Phoenix Union High School District offers a free International
Studies program at Central High School where students are required to take four
years of Chinese, French, Japanese, Latin or Spanish and must enroll in
international-themed classes. About 350 students enroll annually, with the
option to travel abroad by their senior year.
Plans also are under way for the International Multilingual American
German-speaking School, a partnership of the Austrian, German and Swiss
consulates. The K-12 school's curriculum would teach students through third
grade in English and German, and add French and Spanish from fourth grade on.
The curriculum would comply with U.S., Swiss, German and Austrian academic
"The school will be ideal for students who want to study abroad," said Bernard
O. Otremba-Blanc, consul of Germany. "But even those who stay here will benefit
because Phoenix is becoming more of an international player, so a global
education will always be a bonus."