Why Teach foreign Languages?
“One of the striking features of the first Waldorf School, founded by Rudolf Steiner in Stuttgart in 1919, was that all pupils from Class 1 up were taught two foreign languages.
According to Steiner, the encounter with other languages should not only serve to extend the individual’s horizon in a formal manner. It should also enrich and diversify his inner life, nurturing his very soul. It was vital, so Steiner maintained, to introduce languages other than one’s own as a means of counteracting whatever one-sided influence any particular language exerted on the developing child. By getting to name and recognize the objects in the world around him in a new way through the medium of a foreign language, every child would be given the opportunity to break free from the confines of his mother tongue. Education of this kind would prevent children from growing up into narrow-minded, nationalistically prejudiced adults. Instead of encouraging attitudes that ultimately separate people and nations from one another, tolerance and mutual understanding between nations should be consciously cultivated.” (C. Jaffke 1996 Fremdsprachenunterricht auf der Primarstufe. Seine Begründung und Praxis in der Waldorf-pädagogik. 2nd, revised edition. Weinheim.)
Of the approximately seven thousand languages spoken in the world, Spanish has a special place because it is spoken in 21 countries for about 427 million people. Spanish is the second most spoken native language in the world after Mandarin and followed by English (Data source: Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 2016).
In the US there are about 45 million people who speak Spanish as their first or second language and about 6 million students learning Spanish.
There are also more than 133 Waldorf Schools in the US and most of them include Spanish in their language program.
The teachers who are part of WSTA are committed to develop a better and stronger Spanish program in our schools, based in Waldorf education, by learning about child development and by following the indications of Rudolf Steiner in the curriculum.
We are inspired in our work by the educational insights of Rudolf Steiner. We carry a vision of Waldorf education as a cultural initiative and a gift to all humanity.