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The Spanish program at Keys is designed to build the language skills and social knowledge required to communicate meaningfully and effectively, setting students on a path to strong language acquisition in high school and beyond.

In the Lower School, students are exposed to the language through role-plays, chants, songs, games, poems and dialogues. Students also experience the crafts, foods, greetings, etiquette and customs of the countries studied. At the end of the Lower School years they should have familiarity with basic vocabulary, the present tense, and rudimentary styles of conversation.

As Middle School students develop proficiency with the language, classes continue to be interactive and engaging, but the focus shifts to develop advanced grammar concepts. Discussions of literature challenge students to use increasingly advanced vocabulary, translation and speaking skills. Field trips to local communities provide authentic contexts in which to practice the language. Research projects and presentations immerse students in the history, arts and traditions of various countries and afford them a growing understanding of world cultures; discussions of geography and current events help them appreciate their role as citizens of a global society.

Highlights of the program include:


  • » Learn basic vocabulary (daily greetings, numbers 1-10, colors)
  • » Develop familiarity with the sounds of the language
  • » Practice word recognition, reading and listening skills
  • » Begin to associate sounds with written symbols
  • » Explore holidays, customs, stories, songs and nursery rhymes

First Grade

  • » Develop vocabulary related to daily life (routines, leisure activities, calendar, family)
  • » Repeat learned words and phrases to practice pronunciation
  • » Practice simple, scripted dialogues
  • » Engage in a cultural study of Mexico

Second Grade

  • » Expand vocabulary related to daily life (feelings, school, time, community, weather)
  • » Engage in dialogues with simple commands and verbs
  • » Practice and refine pronunciation
  • » Use learned vocabulary to write simple sentences
  • » Engage in a cultural study of Chile

Third Grade

  • » Apply vocabulary related to daily life (extended family, occupations, hobbies, chores) in conversations
  • » Understand and use descriptive adjectives
  • » Learn how to give and follow basic directions
  • » Write a simple story
  • » Study holidays and traditions of various cultures

Fourth Grade

  • » Apply vocabulary related to daily life (shopping, restaurants, people, favorite activities) in conversations and writing
  • » Begin to use common verbs (ser, estar, tener, gustar) in conversation
  • » Understand and use basic commands
  • » Study the present progressive
  • » Engage in cultural unit on California Missions

Fifth Grade

  • » Practice vocabulary, simple sentences, and speech patterns related to classroom setting, daily events, time and events, and food
  • » Learn conjugation for the present tense of –ar, –er, and –ir regular verbs
  • » Understand and use adjectives, adverbs, subject pronouns and idiomatic expressions
  • » Engage in cultural study of festivals: Día de los Muertos, Día de Acción de Gracias, Navidad, Día de San Valentín, and Cinco de Mayo

Sixth Grade

  • » Review and extend vocabulary related to travel, leisure activities, family, emotions, descriptive adjectives of people and places
  • » Learn conjugations of common irregular verbs
  • » Study stem changing verbs, present progressive, simple future
  • » Learn pronouns (indirect object and subject)
  • » Use superlative, commands and idiomatic expressions
  • » Investigate the Aztecs, Incas, and Mayas

Seventh Grade

  • » Review present tense
  • » Learn regular and irregular preterite past tense
  • » Understand and use demonstrative pronouns and adjectives, as well as indirect and direct object pronouns
  • » Conduct dialogues and presentations about plans, desires, and future plans (travel, community service, protecting the planet)
  • » Learn the customs of Spanish speaking countries

Eighth Grade

  • » Read, write and speak in the present tense and past tense
  • » Read and discuss advanced texts
  • » Identify, understand and implement complex grammatical structures
  • » Study reflexive verbs, subjunctive mood, future tense, conditional tense
  • » Conduct research; present ideas effectively, orally and in writing
  • » Delve into the culture of Spanish speaking countries

Keys School - Lower Campus · 2890 Middlefield Road · Palo Alto, CA · 94306
Keys School - Middle Campus · 3981 El Camino Real · Palo Alto, CA · 94306

Phone: 650-328-1711